Today, as the first Monday of September, we celebrate Labor Day, a day dedicated to honoring the hardworking people of the country. Labor Day was set to be celebrated on the first Monday of September annually with the purpose of creating a three-day weekend. This was done along with several other holidays that were given days of recognition on Mondays by the Uniform Monday Holiday Act that passed in 1968.
To many, the holiday is nothing more than this three-day weekend marking the metaphorical end of summer. However, to others, it is a true day to celebrate and honor. They spend the day recognizing the holiday for what it is, a day meant to appreciate and praise the workers of the country who support so much of the daily lives of the country.
What are we supposed to celebrate on Labor Day?
Labor Day is a holiday dedicated to celebrating workers and all they do for the country. The celebration dates back to the American Industrial Revolution. During the Industrial Revolution, the average person’s working conditions were awful. Most Americans were worked to the bone, being constantly exhausted and underpaid. The typical American working schedule consisted of 12-hour workdays, with intense labor, for seven days a week. Children even had to work in most areas, being put to work as young as five to six years old. Children were used in mills, factories, and mines throughout the country, working long hours for lower wages.
Additionally, working conditions in most businesses were not safe, sanitary, or up to standards to support the working classes properly. They lacked ventilation and had environments full of exposure to toxins, causing long-term harm to most employees.
During the Revolution, labor unions began to form, allowing workers to band together and demand labor reform. They called for regulations on the unhealthy work practices of the time, demanding limits to allowed working hours and the implementation of safety regulations to keep them safe while at work. The unions eventually held strikes and protests to support their demands.
One of the largest strikes led to modern-day Labor Day.
In New York City, on September 5, 1882, 10,000 workers took the day off to hold a Labor Day Parade/Strike in front of City Hall. This inspired other union groups to do the same, ultimately leading to annual celebrations for a “workingmen’s holiday.” The holiday continued to be celebrated around the same time annually, always in early September.
12 years later, Congress formalized the holiday in 1894. That year, there was a labor strike in Chicago with the American Railroad Union, one of the biggest at the time. This strike led by Eugene V. Debs became increasingly violent and as a means to create peace, Congress with President Cleveland signed a law to make Labor Day a federal holiday. Ever since, we use the day to honor all working people in the country.