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What is the History of Labor Day?

Some people celebrate Labor Day with a backyard barbecue.
Labor Day is officially celebrated on the first Monday of September.
Congress approved making Labor Day a federal holiday in 1894.
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  • Written By: Sherry Holetzky
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 04 September 2014
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Labor Day is a holiday in the United States that is officially celebrated on the first Monday of each September, although the celebration usually begins during the weekend preceding it. Many people take advantage of the long weekend when there is a holiday that allows for a day off work on Monday. For many people, Labor Day is seen as the last chance to enjoy outdoor activities before cooler weather sets in.

Of course, there is more to Labor Day than a long weekend. It wasn’t always a national holiday. The Central Labor Union engineered the first event as more of a demonstration. It was intended to provide for a holiday that celebrated the working man –the laborer- as well as his contributions to society. A working man’s holiday just wouldn’t be complete if it did not include a day off work, and so Labor Day began.

Labor Day was first celebrated in New York. The date chosen was 5 September, and it was celebrated on that date in both 1883 and 1884. The following year, the decision was made to go with the initial suggestion, and celebrate on the first Monday of September. Other unions were encouraged to participate, and before long, Labor Day was a hit in many areas.

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Over the next few years, several local governments instituted Labor Day legislation to make things more official. The first state to adopt a similar measure was Oregon. More states signed on and nearly a decade later Congress passed legislation making the first Monday of each September a legal, national holiday.

Labor Day is celebrated differently than many other US holidays because it is different in nature. It’s not dedicated to war heroes or to one remarkable person, but to all those who work hard to help make America great. It’s a celebration of people working for the American dream. No other holidays are centered around the average person.

Some schools do not begin the new school year until after Labor Day. Those who begin early still have a day off school the first Monday of September. Post offices and other government agencies are closed and so are banks.

Different people celebrate Labor Day in different ways. Some have picnics, barbecues, or parties, while others attend festivals, parades, or even speeches. Some just use the day off for much needed rest and relaxation. The issue really isn’t about how Labor Day is celebrated; it’s who is celebrated that is important.

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wecallherana
Post 2

@anon44107 - The thing about Wikipedia is that it has many different people that can contribute to it; in fact, almost anyone can write or edit an article on Wikipedia. That being said, many colleges and companies do not consider Wikipedia as a reliable source for information and, in some cases, even forbid the use of its information.

What you find on Wikipedia might not necessarily be true all the time or might only be partially true. Researching it is definitely a good way to follow up. Let me know what you find elsewhere!

anon44107
Post 1

Do you mean Labor Day in the US started in New York or that Labor Day in general started in New York? Wikipedia says that the original September Labor Day holiday started in Canada. I am still researching that issue.

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