Why We Celebrate Labor Day

As summer starts to wind down, most of us have gone to the beach, ate watermelon, cooked burgers, watched fireworks, gone on vacation and thoroughly enjoy the summer. Kids start to dread having to give up their summer freedom. Take heart you summer lovers, there is but one more holiday which ends summer with a well-deserved bang.

Labor Day is a holiday that is meant to celebrate the workers of The United States of America. The holiday has ties to labor unions and, as with all history, there is a controversy about who invented Labor Day.

Back in the late 1800’s as trade unions and labor movements became more popular, groups chose days to celebrate labor. It was first proposed in the 1880’s that September be Labor Day.

Now, here’s where some debate comes into play. Some feel in May 1882, Peter McGuire of the American Federation of Labor witnessed a festival in Canada and proposed a similar celebration in the US.

Others say the concept originated in New York City in September 1882. Matthew Maguire, secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York, proposed the national Labor Day holiday be the first Monday of September.

The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882. It was proposed that the celebrations should include a parade to show “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations” of the community and then have a party for the workers and their family.

Oregon, in 1887, became the first state to make Labor Day an official public holiday. On June 28, 1894 President Grover Cleveland signed a law into place declaring Labor Day a federal holiday with 30 states celebrating the holiday.

While there are still parades and speeches, how we celebrate Labor Day has changed over the years and most look at it as the unofficial end of summer. So while you grill the last hot dog, soak up the sunshine, and enjoy a day off, remember the working men and women that created the industrial infrastructure of our country and made America great.