5 Facts About Labor Day

Labor Day

Have you given much thought about the history of Labor Day? Your ancestors have been celebrating this holiday since at least 1894. Here’s a few facts about this September holiday.

1. Labor Day observances started in the 19th century. September 5, 1882 to be exact. That first Labor Day planned by the Central Labor Union was held in New York City. In 1884 it was decided that celebrations should be held the first Monday in September as a “workingman’s holiday.” States started observing the day and then in 1894 it was made into a federal holiday.

2. No one is quite sure who the Father of Labor Day is. Some say that Peter J. McGuire who was the cofounder of the American Federation of Labor was the first to suggest the observance. Others point to New York’s Central Labor Union secretary Matthew Maguire as suggesting the day in 1882.

3. It’s the celebration of all of us. According to the website for the US Department of Labor, Labor Day “is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.” Parades are one way people have historically celebrated the day.

4. It marks the end of wearing white for the year. You’ve probably heard the age old adage to not wear white after Labor Day. Labor Day is the mark of the end of Summer. While no one takes credit for coming up with this fashion rule it’s believed that it was made up by wealthy women after the Civil War to help distinguish certain classes of women. Eventually it was repeated enough by magazines that it became a fashion rule.

5. For many Labor Day meant back to school. While this tradition is not followed by everyone in the country, there might be a historical reason for children to start school after Labor Day. Historically, the school year schedule differed according to the ends to the community but in the 20th century a 180 day schedule became somewhat standardized across the United States with school beginning right after Labor Day and ending in.

(Sources: United States Department of Labor http://www.dol.gov/laborday/history.htm; Why Can’t You Wear White After Labor Day? http://mentalfloss.com/article/12424/why-cant-you-wear-white-after-labor-day; Back to school: Why August is the new September http://www.cnn.com/2015/08/04/living/school-start-dates-august-parents-feat/)

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