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What I didn’t tell you about Labor Day

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Hey, Labor Dayers!
Happy Labor Day from Everything Summer Camp.

A year or two ago, I told you about the history of Labor Day. I posted about how, despite the fact that today it means a relaxing day off, people were working twelve hour shifts, seven days a week throughout the 1800s, just to keep America—the New World—running properly. Here are a few interesting items that I didn’t include in that post:

Labor Day nowadays means picnics in the park, cookouts, and a three-day weekend because Labor Day is always on the first Monday of September. But, the first official Labor Day took place on Tuesday, September 5 of 1882. It wasn’t until after the first year’s celebration that the first Monday in September was set as an annual day of observance.

People often think of Labor Day as a last call for summer fun, bookending the tail-end of the season. But it was very nearly a springtime holiday, set consistently on the first of May. May 1 is the observed day for many other governments and countries to support their working class. President Grover Cleveland decided to move the date since May 1 held bad memories for some of the Haymarket Riot in Chicago.

Though it’s considered to be such an American holiday, we actually owe our Labor Day celebration to our northern neighbors in Canada. Their worker parades were first held in 1872 after some labor disputes in Toronto. It was a whole ten years later that union activist, Peter McGuire (who some say is the founder of Labor Day in America) introduced the idea of the day.

The entire feel of Labor Day could have ended up an entirely different one if history had gone down several different paths. But thankfully, it ended up just the way it is. I like it that way. Enjoy your Labor Day and, as always, thanks for reading!The workforce relaxes on Labor Day!


- John

Posted in History Lessons


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