Like most people in the United States, I am savoring the Labor Day weekend and lamenting what many folks recognize as the official end to the summer–as weird as it was this year. The weather has been great, so I’ve taken advantage of the free time to enjoy it.
Nevertheless, Labor Day is a federal holiday for a reason. Here are a few facts about Labor Day that make it more than just a day when the banks and government buildings are closed.
A creation of the labor movement, this holiday pays tribute to workers’ contributions to the “strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”1
In New York City, the Central Labor Union celebrated the first Labor Day holiday on Tuesday, September 5, 1882.1 This event inspired other unions in Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Oregon to have their own parades in subsequent years.2
On June 28, 1894, Congress passed an act creating Labor Day, making it a federal holiday on the first Monday each September.1
President Grover Cleveland was in favor of establishing Labor Day. He signed the act into law in 1894.2
Labor Day was originally intended to be celebrated with a street parade, followed by a festival for the enjoyment of workers and their families.1
In the late 1880s, many Americans worked twelve-hour days seven days a week.3
The Adamson Act, which was passed on September 3, 1916, established the eight-hour work day.3
Canada was celebrating Labor (Labour) Day for ten years before the United States caught on. The Canadian holiday also falls on the first Monday in September.4