Labor Day History: How Did Labor Day Originate in the US?

Labor Day History: How Did Labor Day Originate in the US? – This coming Monday, September 6, 2010 will be a Labor Day in the United States and Canada. What is Labor Day and what does it mean to you? Labor Day is an annual holiday observed on the first Monday in September to celebrate the economic and social achievements of laborers which consists of most of us. It represents an annual national tribute to the contributions we as laborers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

The history of Labor Day in the United States dates back in September 5, 1882 in New York City in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. By 1884, the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday to celebrate Labor Day, as originally proposed by the union. Since then, the Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a “workingmen’s holiday” on that date.

With the growth of labor organizations, the idea spread and it became a federal holiday in 1894, when, following the deaths of a number of workers at the hands of the U.S. military and U.S. Marshals during the Pullman Strike, President Grover Cleveland put reconciliation with the labor movement as a top political priority. Because of a fear of conflict, legislation making Labor Day a national holiday was rushed through Congress unanimously and signed into law a mere six days after the end of the strike. By June 28 of 1894, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.

The form for the celebration of Labor Day was outlined in the first proposal of the holiday: A street parade to exhibit to the public “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations,” followed by a festival for the workers and their families. This became the pattern for Labor Day celebrations. Speeches by prominent men and women were introduced later, as more emphasis was placed upon the economic and civil significance of the holiday. Still later, by a resolution of the American Federation of Labor convention of 1909, the Sunday preceding Labor Day was adopted as Labor Sunday and dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement.

Traditionally, Labor Day is celebrated by most Americans as the symbolic end of the summer. The holiday is often regarded as a day of rest and parties. In terms of US sports, Labor Day marks the beginning of the NFL and college football seasons. NCAA teams usually play their first games the week before Labor Day, with the NFL traditionally playing their first game the Thursday following Labor Day.

2 thoughts on “Labor Day History: How Did Labor Day Originate in the US?

  1. Just this morning I was looking for some program, some acknowledgment by the mass media of what this day truly symbolizes. Over and over again I heard the “end of summer,” or the “beginning of school.” Not once – on any major network did they show a movie or segment on the struggles of working men, women, and children in this country. This holiday has been abducted and we have let it happen.

    You have spoken the words I longed to hear, Thank you.

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