Labor Day weekend is here. While a long weekend is always appreciated, especially when the forecast is sunny and warm, Labor Day weekend also means we’re coming to the unofficial end of summer. Schools are in session, white pants are no longer welcome, and weekends on the boat are coming to an end. 

Labor Day for my family usually means the last hoorah at the cabin. It’s a weekend filled with boating, food, campfires, and relaxing.  Aside from that, I’ve never really thought much about the actual holiday or its history. Many of my coworkers also aren’t aware of the history of Labor Day. So why do we celebrate Labor Day anyway?

Labor Day was a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of workers.  In many other countries, May Day or International Workers’ Day (May 1st) is the day working people are honored.

In the U.S., the holiday is traced back to a union-organized parade and rally in New York City in 1882. Labor union leaders pushed for a September date as it coincided with a conference of the Knights of Labor, which was one of the largest and most influential unions at that time. It was estimated that nearly 25,000 union members and their families joined the parade and post-party and celebrated the first Labor Day (U.S. Department of Labor). Labor Day became a national holiday in 1894, and there is still a parade in New York City and many other communities to commemorate the holiday.

Labor Day has a long history of both violence and celebration, too much to share in just one blog. But, now you have a few facts to impress your friends and family this weekend. Cheers to the long weekend and to the achievement of workers!