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Labor Day Meaning, History, and Facts

Labor Day Meaning, History, and Facts

Posted by Hayley Adams on Sep 2nd 2021

Labor day is celebrated on the first Monday in September and this year, the beloved holiday will fall on September 6th, 2021. In addition to enjoying the long weekend, we wanted to take time this year to share the history of this holiday and give some insight into the meaning of Labor Day.

Labor Day pays tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers and was created by the labor movement in the late 19th century, becoming an official federal holiday in 1894. Here is a look at how it all began.

The History Behind Labor Day

At the height of the Industrial Revolution in the United States, the average American usually worked 12 hour days, 7 days a week in order to make a basic living. Despite restrictions in some states, oftentimes even the children were told to work in mills, factories, and mines across the country, just to help make ends meet. In addition to the unfair wages and long work weeks, those who were considered very poor and recent immigrants, often faced extremely unsafe working conditions, with insufficient access to fresh air, sanitary facilities, and breaks.

Due to the horrible conditions, Labor Unions began organizing strikes and rallies to protest the poor circumstances in an attempt to get their employers to renegotiate hours and pay. On September 5th, 1882, 10,000 workers took unpaid time off to march from City Hall to Union Square in New York City, holding the first Labor Day parade in U.S. history!

Quickly, the idea of a “workingman’s holiday”, spread like a wildfire across the country, resulting in many states beginning to unofficially recognize it. However, it wasn’t until 12 years later congress legalized it as a national holiday for good.

Celebrating Labor Day Today

Since then, the government continues to recognize the many contributions workers have made to America’s strength, prosperity, and well-being each year. Many Americans celebrate Labor Day with parades, picnics, and parties across the U.S. -- festivities very similar to those outlined by the first proposal for this holiday, which suggested that the day should be observed with a street parade to exhibit "the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations" of the community, followed by a festival for the recreation and amusement of the workers and their families.

Sound familiar? This became the pattern for the celebrations of Labor Day for years to come!

Did You Know?

Nearly 5 decades after Labor Day was officially recognized, The Uniform Monday Holiday Act of 1968 came into effect and changed several holidays to ensure they would always be observed on Mondays so that federal employees could have more 3 day weekends. The Act, signed into law on June 28, 1968, moved Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, and Columbus Day to fixed Mondays each year. Can't argue with that!

We hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable weekend! Have some fun and get some sleep, you deserve it!