Yes, Monday is a federal holiday in the United States, but Labor Day is much more than that.
Labor Day has a rich history centered around workers. This year, it has particular meaning as hundreds of thousands Americans try to get back to work. The latest jobless rate numbers show that unemployment went up from 9.5 to 9.6 percent in August.
Check out these Labor Day facts below and vote on those you find most interesting and surprising. Share your own in the comments and let us know what Labor Day means to you.
While most Americans likely consider Labor Day a uniquely American experience, but in all reality, Labor Day has its origins in Canada. Stemming from 1870’s labor disputes in Toronto, in 1872 a parade was held in support of a strike against the (ready for this?) 58 hour workweek. As a result, 24 union leaders who were responsible for organizing the event were arrested under anti-union laws. <a href="http://blog.turnthescrew.com/2009/09/10-interesting-facts-about-labor-day/" target="_hplink">SOURCE</a>
First Labor Day festivities included "speeches, a picnic, an abundance of cigars and, Lager beer kegs... mounted in every conceivable place." (quote from a NY daily newspaper) <a href="http://www.dol.gov/laborday/history-daze.htm " target="_hplink">SOURCE</a>
A Fight For A 8-Hour Workday
Labor Day -- celebrated in some countries as May Day or International Workers Day (May 1) -- started in Chicago as a protest campaign in support of the eight-hour workday. <a href="http://www.infoplease.com/spot/mayday.html#ixzz0yTai7gPt" target="_hplink">SOURCE</a> Clarification: Language has been amended in this slide to more accurately reflect the origin of Labor Day, as distinct from International Workers Day.
The form that the observance and celebration of Labor Day should take were outlined in the first proposal of the holiday — a street parade to exhibit to the public "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. <a href="http://www.dol.gov/opa/aboutdol/laborday.htm" target="_hplink">SOURCE</a>
No One Knows Who Started It
There is still some doubt as to who first proposed the holiday for workers. Some records show that Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, was first in suggesting a day to honor those "who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold." But many believe that Matthew Maguire, a machinist, not Peter McGuire, founded the holiday. Recent research seems to support the contention that Matthew Maguire, later the secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, N.J., proposed the holiday in 1882 while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York. <a href="http://www.dol.gov/opa/aboutdol/laborday.htm" target="_hplink">SOURCE</a>
America's 1st Labor Day
The first Labor Day celebration in the United States can be traced to New York City's Union Square on Sept. 5, 1882. It was designed as a way to appease city workers after numerous strikes and in some cases even violence.
From West To East
Oregon was the first, then Colorado, New York, Massachusetts and New Jersey followed as the first states to declare Labor Day a state holiday.
Always On Monday
Labor Day has been celebrated on the first Monday of September every year since President Grover Cleveland declared that day Labor Day in 1894. The extended weekend helps Americans who choose to travel.
No White Clothes The Day After
"Instead, other historians speculate, the origin of the no-white-after–Labor Day rule may be symbolic. In the early 20th century, white was the uniform of choice for Americans well-to-do enough to decamp from their city digs to warmer climes for months at a time: light summer clothing provided a pleasing contrast to drabber urban life. "If you look at any photograph of any city in America in the 1930s, you'll see people in dark clothes," says Scheips, many scurrying to their jobs. By contrast, he adds, the white linen suits and Panama hats at snooty resorts were "a look of leisure." <a href="http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1920684,00.html" target="_hplink">-TIME</a>
Who We're Celebrating
It's changed over the years, but according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2009), here's a breakdown of some of the professions we're celebrating Monday: Firefighters: 258,000 Hairdressers, hairstylists and cosmetologists: 718,000 Chefs and head cooks: 281,000 Musicians, singers and related workers 179,000 Bakers 183,000 Taxi drivers and chauffeurs 286,000 Service station attendants 96,000 Farmers and ranchers 825,000 Pharmacists 232,000 Teachers 6.5 million
Originating as a celebration for the working class, Labor Day has also evolved into the unofficial end of the summer season and for many school districts the beginning of the academic year again.