We celebrate it every year on the first Monday in September — barbecues, last-minute vacations, and a farewell to summer are common themes among Americans celebrating Labor Day.
At Adtaxi, we believe people matter just as much as technology. We even made that part of our mission statement. That's why we want to honor the people behind this national holiday and the blood, sweat, and tears they poured into their work so we could all enjoy what we have today. It's more than just an excuse for a weekend getaway or a blowout barbecue. Check out these five fascinating facts about Labor Day's little-known backstory.
The Labor Movement Started Way Before Labor Day
During the earliest days in America, workers suffered in terrible conditions. There was no minimum wage law. Workers were lucky to make enough to put food on the table. Long hours and dangerous, dirty conditions were the norm. Kids as young as five years old would work in factories and mines to help feed their families. The labor movement really kicked off with a strike that took place in 1768 in protest of wage reductions to New York journeymen tailors.
Labor Day (Probably) Didn't Start in the U.S.
Like anything else, there's disagreement about who came up with the idea of Labor Day. But one thing's certain: Canada beat the U.S. by about a decade. The first Canadian Labor Day was held in Toronto in 1872 as a demonstration demanding workers' rights. The idea quickly became popular, and the first Labor Day demonstration in the United States was in 1882.
The First Labor Day Was a Parade (and a Protest)
The idea to create a movement to honor workers started gaining popularity in the early 1880s and the first Labor Day in the U.S. was planned by the Central Labor Union and held in New York City on September 5, 1882. Roughly 10,000 workers chose to take unpaid leave to participate in a parade from City Hall to Wendel's Elm Park at West 92nd Street and what is now Columbus Ave. The event culminated in a concert and speeches in the park, all part of the workers' protest demanding the end of backbreaking 12-hour days, seven-day work weeks, and a lack of basic rights and protections.
Oregon Was the First State to Make it a Holiday
What we now know as a holiday wasn't always a holiday. That first labor protest parade inspired other regions to start holding their own parades. Oregon was the first state to declare "Labor Day" a holiday in 1887. Congress passed an act making it a legal holiday in every state and the District of Columbia on June 28, 1894. That's also when it was established as the first Monday in September every year.
It's a Real Celebration
What started as a movement to improve conditions and celebrate American working people evolved into more than just a parade. We still celebrate the achievements and contributions of everyone in the U.S workforce, but Labor Day also marks the unofficial end of summer. That's also where the fashion rule "no white after Labor Day" started. The rich population in the Victorian era would return from their summer vacations and store their white summer clothing for the next year in preparation for returning to work and school.
Labor Day is among the biggest shopping days of the year. It's a big day for businesses of all kinds, but it also has some fascinating history behind it. Whether you celebrate with a big backyard bash, heading out of town or going to a parade, send off summer in style.