The history of Labor Day is quite interesting. Originated in the late 19th century, Labor Day was proposed by labor unions to be celebrated as a day dedicated to the labor class. This was during the heydays of labor movements across the world. Over time, this day has turned into just another holiday in the rest of the world, while in the United States, it is a day to have barbecues and Labor Day picnics as the long weekend is unofficially considered as the end of summer.
Across different places, trade unions chose different days to celebrate Labor Day. With a common consensus, May 1 became International Labor Day to be celebrated across the world. It came to be known as International Workers’ Day. However, in the United States and also in Canada, the first Monday of September came to be celebrated as Labor Day or Labour Day. How did this happen? Read on to know more about this and other interesting facts about Labor Day.
– There are multiple versions of why Labor Day is celebrated on May 1 across the world, while it is celebrated on the first Monday of September in the US. In a convention held in 1885, a resolution was passed by the American Federation of Labor to adopt eight-hour working days for workers from May 1, 1886. This day came to be known as International Workers’ Day. Three years before this, in September 1882, the Central Labor Union of New York held a public parade to mark the General Assembly of the Knights of Labor in New York. Another version of the story is that the Vice President of the American Federation of Labor, Peter J. McGuire proposed the first Monday of September to be a general holiday for the labor class. Later, there were differences among American labor unions about which month to pick for Labor Day, May or September. In 1887, President Grover Cleveland publicly supported the first Monday of September to be the Labor Day for the US. However, it was only on June 28, 1894, the first Monday of September was officially approved to be Labor Day.
– Although it has become obsolete now, there used to be a “no white after Labor Day” rule earlier. In the US, Labor Day unofficially indicates the end of summer. A majority of the schools ended their summer vacations with the Labor Day weekend. Thus, members of the upper class would return back home after the summer holidays and stow away their white and seersucker clothes that are meant to be worn during the summer. This is how the expression “no white after Labor Day” originated. However, no one really follows this rule now.
– Not many people know that the first Labor Day or International Workers’ Day, as it is known now, is associated with the Haymarket Affair. On May 4, 1886, a labor demonstration took place at Haymarket Square, Chicago. The demonstration was a peaceful rally to demand eight-hour working day for labors who used to work for 12 hours seven days a week. The rally also protested the killing of a number of workers in a police brutality incident the previous day, on May 3, 1886. During the peaceful rally, a dynamite bomb was flung at policemen by an unknown person. This led an exchange of gunfire causing the death of seven policemen and four civilians. Around 70 people were injured. To commemorate this day, International May Day or International Workers Day came to be celebrated.
– In the US, there is an odd tradition of marking Labor Day as an unofficial end of Hot Dog season. This is mostly related to the fall in the sales of hot dogs after the Labor Day weekend. According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, nearly 7 million hot dogs are consumed by American in the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day. The sales of hot dogs are highest between May and September.
– Labor Day actually came to the United States from Canada. In 1872, a “Nine-Hour Movement” was held in Toronto, Canada. The aim of this was to support the Canadian labor movement. A day was specially set out to honor the labor class. Labor Day then gained its way in the US.