Celebrating Labor Day – Past and Present

Labor Day is a United States public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws and well-being of the country. It is the Monday of the long weekend known as Labor Day Weekend and it is considered the unofficial end of summer in the United States. It is recognized as a federal holiday.

Our neighbor to the North, Canada also celebrates Labour Day on the first Monday of September. In fact, more than 80 countries celebrate a type of Labor Day which around the world is mostly referred to as International Workers’ Day on May 1 – the ancient European holiday of May Day – and several countries have chosen their own dates for Labor Day.

Some Markers and history of Labor Day

Labor Day is called the “unofficial end of summer” because it marks the end of the cultural summer season. Many families take their two-week vacations during the two weeks ending Labor Day weekend. Many fall activities, such as school and sports begin about this time.

Labor Day weekend marks the beginning of many fall sports. National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) teams usually play their first games that weekend and the National Football League (NFL) traditionally play their kickoff game the Thursday following Labor Day. The Southern 500 NASCAR auto race has been held on Labor Day weekend at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina from 1950 to 2003 and since 2015. At Indianapolis Raceway Park, the National Hot Rod Association hold their finals of the NHRA U.S. Nationals drag race that weekend. Labor Day is the middle point between weeks one and two of the U.S. Open Tennis Championships held in Flushing Meadows, New York.

The first Labor Day parade took place in New York City, 1882 with a march from City Hall to Union Square. In 1887, according to the US Department of Labor, five states, including Oregon, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York, passed legislation to recognize Labor Day as a holiday – the first of which was Oregon. The History Channel’s Labor Day video provides interesting information on the history of Labor Day, including the fact that in 1894, President “Grover Cleveland made Labor Day a federal holiday.”

Celebrating Labor Day

Today’s Labor Day celebrations traditionally consist of parades, barbecues, and time spent with family and friends. This holiday serves as a reminder of how far we’ve come as a country regarding working conditions and labor laws –honoring the efforts of revolutionary workers and celebrating their accomplishments.

Over the upcoming three-day weekend, celebrate your achievements as an American worker and spend some time with the people that are important to you. Go out and enjoy your local Labor Day parade. After all, it was a local parade that began the holiday over 130 years ago!

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