Labor Day is celebrated every year on the first Monday of Sept. Our nation honors the contributions American workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.
Many Americans view Labor Day as the unofficial end of summer. They celebrate with cookouts, parades, or a weekend getaway to enjoy the last time at the beach before the kids return to school and before the peak vacation time is over for workers.
According to the U. S. Department of Labor, the Labor Day holiday was first proposed in 1882, after a parade of about 10,000 workers held the first "workingman's holiday" in New York City. Labor Day celebrations spread across the country. In 1894, Congress passed an act that made Labor Day an official national holiday.
Some historians say Peter McGuire, the general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, was first to suggest a day to workers. However, many historians credit Matthew Maguire, a machinist, with first suggesting the holiday. They say Maguire, who later became secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, N.J., proposed the holiday in 1882 while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York.
The first Labor Day was celebrated on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 1882, in New York City under the guidance of the Central Labor Union. A second Labor Day was observed a year later on Sept. 5, 1883, in New York. In 1884, the labor union selected the first Monday of Sept. as the day to celebrate Labor Day. It urged other municipalities to observe a "workingmen's holiday" on that same date. Many regions held their first Labor Day celebrations in 1885.
In Feb. 1887, Oregon became the first state to recognize the first Monday in Sept. as Labor Day. Later that year, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York followed suit. By 1894, 23 states had adopted Labor Day holidays. In June 1894, Congress approved a Labor Day recognition for Washington, D.C., as well as U.S. territories.
The first labor council proposal for a Labor Day holiday recommended 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. That's the example for most Labor Day celebrations today.
Not only is Labor Day the unofficial day of the end of summer, but it has also become the official starting date for political campaigns for Nov. elections.