Labor Day is most commonly known in the USA as the last of the summer holidays which is spent celebrating outdoors, usually with family and friends.
In an article on Celebritycafe.com by Danielle Costa (8/31/2012) she writes, "Labor Day is approaching fast and, with it being the last big weekend of the summer, you need to make sure you have a ton of fun with the people you care about and let summer go out with a bang."
Well, yes, it's all those, but is there more? It irks me that our national holidays have become just another three day weekend and many people have forgotten what those holidays were originally intended to stand for.
HISTORY OF LABOR DAY IN THE US
There seems to be a discrepancy about who actually suggested the Labor Day holiday. Some say that in 1882, the secretary of the Central Labor Union, Matthew Maguire, came up with the idea. That's contradicted by others who argue that it was Peter J. McGuire of the American Federation of Labor who proposed it after attending Toronto's annual Labor Festival. We'll never know for sure, and most of us don't care.
Labor Day in the United States was first celebrated on September 5, 1882 in New York City. Two years later, in 1894, the US Congress proclaimed September 1 as a national holiday entitled Labor Day. Its purpose was to celebrate and value in American society of the role of our workers and their work by providing, ironically and fittingly, a day off to rest and enjoy the fruits of one’s labor. One website characterizes the day as a celebration of the American worker and his/her sacrifices and economic and social achievements.
Supposedly, the form for the celebration of Labor Day was presented in the original proposal for the holiday: A street parade to exhibit to the public "the strength and esprit de 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. A day of rest for the worker of America. I'll drink to that!
I can imagine that most Americans who celebrate this holiday have no clue what it is and how it started. That's sad.
The reasons behind declaring Labor Day a holiday stems from more than a desire to recognize the importance of American workers. At least in part, it came about as the result of the Pullman Strike, which occurred in Illinois on May 11, 1884. Without going into the gory details, three thousand railroad workers went on a wildcat strike without the authorization of their union because of the way George Mortimer Pullman, founder and president of the Pullman Palace Car Company, treated his workers.
A date in September was selected rather than May 1, which is celebrated throughout much of the world as Labor Day, for fear it would be associated with nascent Communist, Syndicalist, and Anarchist movements and would appear to celebrate the labor riots of 1884, the Haymarket Affair in 1886, and other May Day riots.
Everything is political, isn't it?
INTERNATIONAL WORKERS DAY
International Worker's Day, often called May Day, recognizes the International Labor Movement and is celebrated on May 1 in at least eighty countries in the world, including most of Europe, and particularly communist countries. The date was chosen by a pan-national organization of socialist and communist political parties to commemorate the Haymarket Affair.
The Haymarket Affair occurred on May 1, 1886, in Chicago. According to Wikipedia, "The police were trying to disperse a public assembly during a general strike for the eight-hour workday, when an unidentified person threw a bomb at them. The police reacted by firing on the workers, killing dozens of demonstrators and several of their own officers. Reliable witnesses testified that all the pistol flashes came from the center of the street, where the police were standing, and none from the crowd. Moreover, initial newspaper reports made no mention of firing by civilians. A telegraph pole at the scene was filled with bullet holes, all coming from the direction of the police."
In Europe and communist countries, May 1st has become associated with demonstrations by various socialist, communist, and anarchists groups all over the world..
WHAT A GREAT IDEA!
Actually, the idea of a three-day weekend to have fun with your family and friends sounds pretty nice. Parades, picnics and outdoor fun are much better than dancing around a maypole or getting your head beat in by the riot squad. Enjoy yourself.
Rosie the Riveter says
"Take the day off" Go to a parade Have a cookout or picnic with the family
Just remember to pick up up your trash!