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What is the History of Labor Day?

August 9th, 2013 Seasonal

While the Labor Day holiday isn't exactly one of the most anticipated of the year, Americans appreciate having a day off each September that recognizes their hard work. You may already have barbecue or beach plans in place for this year's event, but do you know why Labor Day exists? It wasn't always a holiday that people typically received off from work.

The first Labor Day was celebrated in New York City on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 1882, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Many people believe it was initially proposed by a man named Peter J. McGuire, who was the general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor. However, Matthew Maguire, a machinist, is believed to have founded the holiday officially.

It's worth noting that the idea for the Labor Day holiday was born during the Industrial Revolution, according to History, which is when Americans were working hard to fuel the economy. Not all employers were mindful of their employees' needs for time off and more money. As a result, many people went on strike, throwing manufacturers into a tailspin. 

New York City was the first to have an official Labor Day, but other cities soon followed. Twelve years after the concept was developed, Congress made Labor Day an official U.S. holiday. Today, Labor Day is thought of as a last hurrah for summer. Many people perceive it as the end of the season and the beginning of school for young children. While the official end of summer isn't until September in the U.S., it's a tradition that many people still celebrate each year. 

Whether you're the person in the neighborhood who hosts the annual Labor Day party or you bring the hot dogs, there's plenty to appreciate on this historic day.