The United States celebrates Labor Day as a national holiday and non-working day on the first Monday of September. This differs from the 1 May date of “Labour Day” observed in most countries around the world. The US does observe May Day on 1 May as well, but May Day is a very minor holiday in the US.
|2022||5 Sep||Mon||Labor Day||National|
|2023||4 Sep||Mon||Labor Day||National|
|2024||2 Sep||Mon||Labor Day||National|
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Labor Day is seen as the unofficial end of the Summer Season. It is the last chance to get out on a quick trip or longer vacation with the family before the kids have to get back to school from Summer break. Labor Day is also a time of family get-togethers, outdoor barbecues, parades, picnicking, and sports events.
The historical background to US Labor Day is both interesting and tumultuous. As the nation became less and less agrarian and more and more industrialized and urbanized, it had to adjust to a new way of life. In the late 1800s, at the peak of the Industrial Revolution, hours, wages, and working conditions were very poor by today’s standards. It was typical to work 12 hours a day all seven days of the week to just barely get by. Child labor was a big problem. And working conditions were often dangerous.
In this climate, labor unions became extremely prominent. Workers joined unions to help them fight for better compensation and better treatment. There were many strikes, and it wasn’t uncommon for violence to ensue. The most infamous strike-turned-bloodbath was the Haymarket Riot of 1886. It was this strike that became the basis of the 1 May date of Labor Day around the world, but in the US, it was thought best to avoid that date. The September date gave workers their “working man’s holiday” and “kept the peace.”
Labor Day began to be celebrated on a state and local level in the 1880s and 1890s. It was only in 1894 that it was signed into law as a public federal holiday by President Grover Cleveland.
One last thing we should mention is the origin of Labor Day parades. The first one was held in New York City when workers took an unpaid day off to march to Union Square on 5 September in 1882. This then became a tradition that spread to other US cities and was done on Labor Day.
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|2020||7 Sep||Mon||Labor Day||National|
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