Labor Day is today and many of us are enjoying the last long weekend of the summer. But what is Labor Day and why do we celebrate it?

What is Labor Day?

Do you know the true meaning of Labor Day and how it came about? Those of us who are older may remember stories from our parents about older generations in our families who were involved in the labor movement. The holiday was originally created, recognized and celebrated by labor activists back in the late 1880’s. It was observed across a number of states until it became a federal holiday in 1894.

Many early labor organizers, activists and supporters were people on the fringe of society who knew that the collective of human workers had the power to shape the communities, the cities and the country. They gave us the 8-hour workday, weekends, and took children out of  American factories.

Back in the heyday of education about the rights for miners, factory and mill workers, machinists, carpenters and other tradespeople, the need to pay tribute to the common laborer was important. It’s just as important to celebrate the laborers of our country today, without them much wouldn’t get done.

7 Interesting Labor Day Facts

  • Work days for many trades used to be 16 hours.
  • In 1882, the unions of New York city decided to have a parade to honor their workers and union members. This parade inspired many other cities to follow suit.
  • Oregon was the first state to celebrate Labor Day as a state holiday in 1887.
  • Grover Cleveland was the President who signed the act establishing the federal holiday in 1894.
  • The can’t “wear white after Labor Day” rule originated in this era and only applied to specific “classes/statuses” of people. Wearing white was a sign of status and one could only wear white after labor day if you could afford to go on winter holidays.
  • Labor Day is one of the busiest travel days of the year, only preceded by Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and the day before Thanksgiving.
  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 14.8 million union members in the workforce in 2017. There were 17.7 million in 1983.

Quality ways to celebrate Labor Day

  • Spend the day in nature with friends or family
  • Share family photos and stories with younger generations
  • Have a special celebration for anyone in the family who is a laborer, tradesperson or in a union
  • Check your local community calendar – Go enjoy a local event like a parade or celebration
  • Bake or eat some festive, patriotic foods

Wrap Up

Labor Day honors hard work and many of us have worked hard all of our lives. Enjoy the day relaxing and celebrating in the way that makes you and your family the happiest.

Happy Labor Day!

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