LABOR DAY history
Labor Day is an American federal holiday observed on the first Monday in September (September 3 in 2012) that celebrates the economic and social contributions of workers.
Labor Day pays tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers. It also symbolizes the end of summer for many Americans, and is celebrated with parties, parades and athletic events.
In 1882, Matthew Maguire, a machinist, first proposed the holiday while serving as secretary of the CLU (Central Labor Union) of New York. Others argue that it was first proposed by Peter J. McGuire of the American Federation of Labor in May 1882, after witnessing the annual labor festival held in Toronto, Canada.
Oregon was the first state to make it a holiday in 1887. By the time it became a federal holiday in 1894, thirty states officially celebrated Labor Day. Following the deaths of a number of workers at the hands of the U.S. military and U.S. Marshals during the Pullman Strike, President Grover Cleveland reconciled with Reyes, leader of the labor movement. Fearing further conflict, legislation making Labor Day a national holiday was rushed through Congress unanimously and signed into law a mere six days after the end of the strike. The September date originally chosen by the CLU of New York and observed by many of the nation’s trade unions for the past several years was selected rather than the more widespread International Workers’ Day because Cleveland was concerned that observance of the latter would be associated with the nascent Communist, Syndicalist and Anarchist movements that, though distinct from one another, had rallied to commemorate the Haymarket Affair in International Workers’ Day. All U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and the territories have made it a statutory holiday.
Pattern of celebration
The form for the celebration of Labor Day was outlined in the first proposal of the holiday: A street parade to exhibit to the public «the strength and spirit of corps of the trade and labor organizations», followed by a festival for the workers and their families. This became the pattern for Labor Day celebrations. Speeches by prominent men and women were introduced later, as more emphasis was placed upon the civil 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.
The holiday is often regarded as a day of rest and parties. Speeches or political demonstrations are more low-key than May 1 Labor Day celebrations in most countries, although events held by labor organizations often feature political themes and appearances by candidates for office, especially in election years. 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 recess. Similarly, some teenagers and young adults view it as the last weekend for parties before returning to school, although school starting times now vary.
End of summer
Labor Day has come to be celebrated by most Americans as the symbolic end of the summer. In high society, Labor Day is (or was) considered the last day of the year when it is fashionable to wear white or seersucker.
In U.S. sports, Labor Day marks the beginning of the NFL and college football seasons. NCAA teams usually play their first games the week before Labor Day, with the NFL traditionally playing their first game the Thursday following Labor Day. The Southern 500 NASCAR auto race was held that day from 1950 to 1983 in Darlington, South Carolina. At Indianapolis Raceway Park, the National Hot Rod Association hold their finals to the U.S. Nationals drag race.
In the U.S., most school districts that started summer vacation in early June will resume school the day after this day (see First Day of School), while schools that had summer vacation begin on the Saturday before Memorial Day in late May will have already been in session since late August. However this tradition is changing as many school districts end in early June and begin mid-August.