Why do we celebrate Labor Day

The hard-won victory of Labor Day shows how far workers' rights have advanced since the Industrial Revolution. What it means to us now, how it happened, and when it's honored are all listed here.

Labor Day

For many, Labor Day is a three-day weekend that allows us to enjoy a party and some delicious grilled food as we toast the end of a beautiful summer. 

But Labor Day is about much more than just a three-day weekend, Labor Day bargains (like those on mattresses, furniture, and appliances), and the memes we see online. 

The celebration has historical roots in the labor movement, as suggested by its name. Fascinating, no? What is Labor Day, when is it, and why we commemorate it every year are further explained here in this article?

Labor Day: Date

Every year, the first Monday in September is Labor Day. 

Why do we celebrate Labor Day?

The United States significantly increased employment opportunities and trade throughout the Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries. 

It didn't deliver fair compensation, safety restrictions, or reasonable rules about how many hours should be worked each day or week. 

To put things in perspective, at the height of the Industrial Revolution, the typical American worked a 12-hour day, seven days a week. It wasn't unusual to see young children performing difficult labor under demanding circumstances for meager remuneration.

However, these deplorable conditions were noticed. American employees' rights to fair compensation, reasonable working hours, and certain working conditions were gradually upheld through the formation of labor unions. Some organized protests and strikes occasionally became violent. 

During this euphoric period, the concept of Labor Day was born. The day was intended to be a day of well-deserved appreciation for the sacrifices made by American employees to the nation.

The first Labor Day parade was conducted in New York City on September 5, 1882. 

The Central Labor Union of New York sponsored a march to honor union labor and demonstrate support for all unions. Over 10,000 union members skipped work to participate in the march from City Hall to Union Square.

Although several states observed the holiday in the 1880s, it wasn't declared a federal holiday until June 1894, when President Grover Cleveland signed legislation making it one. 

President Cleveland approved the measure during the Pullman Strike, a train workers' protest about lower pay and the refusal to lower rent in their neighborhood. 

The strike, which began in Chicago and swiftly spread nationwide, resulted in fatal clashes between protesters and the National Guard in Chicago in July 1894.

You could now be wondering, "Who invented Labor Day?" It might be either Matthew Maguire, secretary of the Central Labor Union of New York, or Peter J. McGuire, co-founder of the American Federation of Labor.

Difference between Labor Day and May Day

Other days celebrate the labor force besides Labor Day. Every year on May 1, May Day, also known as International Workers' Day, is observed. 

The origins of May Day can be traced back to ancient paganism festivities, but in the 1880s, a new significance was given to the holiday. More than 300,000 workers engaged in a walkout on May 1st, 1886, calling for an eight-hour workweek.

Within a few days, the strike increased, and on May 4, at the Haymarket Riot in Chicago, the protests became fatal. International interest was sparked by the riot and the contentious trials of the persons accused of inciting it. 

At a May Day rally in London in 1890, more than 300,000 people demonstrated in opposition. Since then, 66 nations have recognized it as a national holiday, but the United States is not one of them.

Labor Day: Traditions

Labor Day is no different from other holidays in having entertaining traditions. Some popular Labor Day customs include the following:

  • Parades: To honor Labor Day, parades are held in numerous cities and villages. You might even see homes decked out in Labor Day decorations. The procession may even be a part of a more significant Labor Day celebration the neighborhood hosts.
  • Picnic:   Many individuals enjoy bringing a breeze and eating outside with loved ones when the weather is beautiful. Do you need anything for the picnic? View these mouthwatering cuisine suggestions for the Labor Day weekend.
  • Barbecue:  On Labor Day, you still have time to turn on the grill! Many grill hot dogs, hamburgers, ribs, poultry, and other foods throughout the day.
  • Fireworks:  Without fireworks, what is a party? Fireworks shows for Labor Day will likely fill the sky with color.
  • Trave: Many people typically travel during the Labor Day weekend to enjoy one more summer weekend at the lake or the beach.
  • Preserving white clothes: It is traditional advice to refrain from wearing white after Labor Day, so some people keep their white apparel away for the following season. 

Some Facts about the Labor Day

  • Labor Day was observed in Canada before it was in the US. Canada's first Labor Day, or Labour Day, was followed in 1872, ten years before the United States.
  • The first state to observe the holiday was Oregon. On February 21 of that year, it declared Labor Day a legal holiday. Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York also ratified the same year's holiday.
  • Other federal holidays fall on Mondays besides Labor Day. Presidents' Day, Memorial Day, and Martin Luther King Jr. Day all fall on Mondays. It's not a coincidence; several of those holidays were relocated due to the 1968 Uniform Monday Holiday Act. This legislation granted additional three-day weekends to federal workers.
  • Unofficially, the peak hot dog season ends on Labor Day. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, Americans routinely consume 7 billion hot dogs.
  • As the second most popular holiday for grilling, Labor Day is tied with Memorial Day in popularity.
  • The U.S. civilian labor force comprises more than 164 million people.
  • In 2021, union membership numbered 14 million among American wage and salaried workers.
  • The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour as of this writing. The federal minimum wage was 25 cents per hour when it was created in 1938.
  • With a minimum salary of $15.20 per hour as of January 2022, the District of Columbia has the highest state minimum wage in the nation. California comes in second, paying $15 an hour.
  • Even though many people view Labor Day as the unofficial end of summer, there is still much to celebrate in September. September 15 marks the beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Month, while September 22 marks the first day of fall.
  • Traditionally, the start of the American NFL is the weekend following Labor Day. The Los Angeles Rams and Buffalo Bills, the reigning Super Bowl champions, will play each other in the opening NFL game of 2022 on Thursday, September 8.
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