The origins of this holiday date back to the 1880s when the Knights of Labor and other labor organizations coordinated with the Central Labor Union of New York to host a public parade on September 5th, 1882 in celebration of the common worker. For the next several years, labor organizations made a point to host special events recognizing the efforts and achievements of blue collar workers.
Then in 1887, Oregon became the first state to formally recognize the holiday with proposals encouraging the public to celebrate “the strength and esprit de corps [morale] of the trade and labor organizations.” Later, the U.S. Congress, under President Grover Cleveland’s administration, officially declared Labor Day to be a federal holiday in 1894, following the aftermath of the famous Pullman Strike.
The holiday is also celebrated in Canada in September. Most other countries, however, celebrate on May 1st, International Workers’ Day; this date was chosen by Second International, a former organization of socialist and labor parties in Europe, to commemorate the Haymarket riot that occurred in Chicago during May 1886.
As you enjoy your picnic, time at the lake, or valuable time with family, reflect and share your newly acquired knowledge of the history of Labor Day and the remarkable achievements made during the American labor movement.
*partially adapted from the U.S. Department of Labor’s online article “History of Labor Day.” Additional information was obtained from a variety of sources using the “References” sections under Wikipedia articles: “Labor Day,” “International Workers’ Day,” “Haymarket Affair,” and “Pullman Strike.”