Labor Day (United States)
Learn more about Labor Day (United States)
|Observed by||United States|
|Date||First Monday in September|
|2017 date||September 4, 2017|
|2018 date||September 3, 2018|
More than 100 years after the first Labor Day observance, there is still some doubt as to who first proposed the holiday for workers. Some records show that Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, was first in suggesting a day to honor those "who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold."
But Peter McGuire's place in Labor Day history has not gone unchallenged. Many believe that Matthew Maguire, a machinist, not Peter McGuire, founded the holiday. Recent research seems to support the contention that Matthew Maguire, later the secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, New Jersey, proposed the holiday in 1882 while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York. What is clear is that the Central Labor Union adopted a Labor Day proposal and appointed a committee to plan a demonstration and picnic.
 The First Labor Day
The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. The Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day holiday just a year later, on September 5, 1883.
In 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday, as originally proposed, and the Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a "workingmen's holiday" on that date. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country.
Many other labor organizations, notably the affiliates of the International Workingmen's Association, favored a May 1 holiday. With the event of Chicago's Haymarket riots in early May of 1886, some believed that a May 1 holiday could become an opportunity to commemorate the riots. Thus, fearing that May Day holidays might strengthen the socialist movement, some moved to support the position of the Knights of Labor and their date for Labor Day.
 Labor Day Legislation
Through the years the nation gave increasing emphasis to Labor Day. The first governmental recognition came through municipal ordinances passed during 1885 and 1886. From them developed the movement to secure state legislation. The first state bill was introduced into the New York legislature, but the first to become law was passed by Oregon on February 21, 1887. During the year four more states — Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York — created the Labor Day holiday by legislative enactment. By the end of the decade Connecticut, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania had followed suit. By 1894, 23 other states had adopted the holiday in honor of workers, and on June 28 of that year, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.
Labor Day has been celebrated on the first Monday in September in the United States since the 1880s. The form that the observance and celebration of Labor Day should take were outlined in the first proposal of the holiday — a street parade to exhibit to the public "the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations" of the community, followed by a festival for the recreation and amusement of the workers and their families. This became the pattern for the celebrations of Labor Day. Speeches by prominent men and women were introduced later, as more emphasis was placed upon the economic and civic significance of the holiday. Still later, by a resolution of the American Federation of Labor convention of 1909, the Sunday preceding Labor Day was adopted as Labor Sunday and dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement.
Today Labor Day is often regarded simply as a day of rest and, unlike May Day, political demonstrations are rare. Forms of celebration include picnics, barbecues, fireworks displays, water sports, and public art events. Families with school-age children take it as the last chance to travel before the end of summer. Some teenagers and young adults view it as the last weekend for parties before returning to school. However, of late, schools have begun well before Labor Day, as early as the 24th of July in many urban districts, including Nashville and Atlanta.
According to Howard Zinn in his research in A People's History of the United States, the original parade in 1882 organized by the Knights of Labor had a loose affiliation with the Ku Klux Klan, a main reason why some supporters of a labor parade preferred the May Day march.
A prominent Labor Day event in the United States, since 1966, is the annual telethon of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, hosted by Jerry Lewis to fund research and patient support programs for the various diseases grouped as muscular dystrophy. The telethon raises tens of millions of dollars each year.
An old custom prohibits the wearing of white after Labor Day. The custom is rooted in nothing more than popular fashion etiquette.<ref>"Ask Yahoo!", Yahoo!, 2002-09-13. Retrieved on 2006-09-05.</ref> In actuality, the etiquette originally stated that white shoes were the taboo while white or "winter white" clothes were acceptable.<ref>"White out? Tomorrow's Labor Day. So it's time for a fashion etiquette lesson", jacksonville.com, 2002-09-01. Retrieved on 2006-09-05.</ref> This custom is fading from popularity as it continues to be questioned and challenged, particularly by leaders in the fashion world. "Fashion magazines are jumping on this growing trend, calling people who 'dare' to wear white after Labor Day innovative, creative, and bold. Slowly but surely, white is beginning to break free from its box, and is becoming acceptable to wear whenever one pleases. This etiquette is also compared to the Canadian fashion rule of not wearing green after Remembrance day. "<ref>"Wearing White After Labor Day: Fashion Disaster or Tired Tradition", The HillTop Online, 2002-09-10. Retrieved on 2006-09-05.</ref>
 Current dates
Labor Day (United States) will fall on the following dates in the next few years:
 Local Labor Day celebrations
- Labor Day Bridge Walk - Residents in the state of Michigan walk across the Mackinac Bridge early in the morning on Labor Day every year. The Walk is traditionally started by the Governor of Michigan.
- Boomsday - fireworks display and festival on the Tennessee River in downtown Knoxville, Tennessee.
- Riverfest - fireworks and festival in Cincinnati, Ohio sponsored by radio station WEBN that draws over 500,000 visitors.
- Bumbershoot - well known festival in Seattle, Washington held at Seattle Center
- Chataqua - well known festival in Pampa, Texas held in Central Park
- Victory Square Block Party - infamous festival in Vancouver held in the eponymous park.
- Los Gatos Celebrations - Los Gatos, California, held in Vasona park.
- Labor Day Parade & Harvest of Fun - Lowell, Indiana, oldest Labor Day parade in Indiana.
Labor Day Regada - Hydroplane boat races and carnival held in Lock Haven, PA. Weekend ends with a fireworks display.