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Labor Day

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Labor Day
First United States Labor Day Parade, September 5, 1882 in New York City.jpg
Labor Day Parade in New York's Union Square, 1882
Observed by United States
Type National
Celebrations Parades, barbecues
Date First Monday in September
2017 date September 4  (2017-09-04)
2018 date September 3
2019 date September 2
2020 date September 7
Frequency Annual
Related to Labour Day

Labor Day in the United States is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws and well-being of the country. It is the Monday of the long weekend known as Labor Day Weekend and it is considered the unofficial end of summer in the United States. It is recognized as a federal holiday.

Beginning in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labor movements grew, trade unionists proposed that a day be set aside to celebrate labor. "Labor Day" was promoted by the Central Labor Union and the Knights of Labor, which organized the first parade in New York City. In 1887, Oregon was the first state of the United States to make it an official public holiday. By the time it became an official federal holiday in 1894, thirty states in the United States officially celebrated Labor Day.[1]

Canada's Labour Day is also celebrated on the first Monday of September. More than 80 countries celebrate International Workers' Day on May 1 – the ancient European holiday of May Day – and several countries have chosen their own dates for Labour Day.


Beginning in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labor movements grew, different groups of trade unionists chose a variety of days on which to celebrate labor. In the United States, a September holiday called Labor Day was first proposed in the 1880s. An early history of the holiday dates the event's origins to a General Assembly of the Knights of Labor convened in New York City in September 1882.[2] In conjunction with this clandestine Knights assembly, a public parade of various labor organizations was held on September 5 under the auspices of the Central Labor Union (CLU) of New York.[2] Secretary of the CLU Matthew Maguire is credited for first proposing that a national Labor Day holiday subsequently be held on the first Monday of each September in the aftermath of this successful public demonstration.[3]

An alternative thesis is maintained that Peter J. McGuire of the American Federation of Labor put forward the first proposal in May 1882,[1] after witnessing the annual labour festival held in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.[4]

There was disagreement among labor unions at this time about when a holiday celebrating workers should be. Many advocated for May 1. However, President Cleveland was concerned that a labor holiday on May 1 would be a commemoration of the Haymarket Affair of May 1886,[5] as it eventually was under the name International Workers' Day.[6][7] In 1887, he publicly supported the September Labor Day holiday.[5][better source needed]

In 1887 Oregon became the first state of the United States to make Labor Day an official public holiday. By the time it became an official federal holiday in 1894, thirty U.S. states officially celebrated Labor Day.[1]

Following the deaths of workers at the hands of United States Army and United States Marshals Service during the Pullman Strike of 1894 in Chicago, the United States Congress unanimously voted to approve legislation to make Labor Day a national holiday and President Grover Cleveland signed it into law six days after the end of the strike.[8] Cleveland supported the creation of the national holiday in an attempt to shore up support among trade unions following the Pullman Strike.[9] The date of May 1 (an ancient European holiday known as May Day) was an alternative date, celebrated then (and now) as International Workers' Day, but President Cleveland was concerned that observance of Labor Day on May 1 would encourage Haymarket-style protests and would strengthen socialist and anarchist movements that, though distinct from one another, had rallied to commemorate the Haymarket Affair on International Workers' Day.[9][10]

All U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and the United States territories have made Labor Day a statutory holiday.


The form for the celebration of Labor Day was outlined in the first proposal for the holiday: A street parade to exhibit to the public "the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations",[3] followed by a festival for the workers and their friends and 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.[3]

Unofficial end of summer[edit]

Labor Day is called the "unofficial end of summer"[11] because it marks the end of the cultural summer season. Many take their two-week vacations during the two weeks ending Labor Day weekend.[citation needed] Many fall activities, such as school and sports begin about this time.

In the United States, many school districts resume classes around the Labor Day holiday weekend (see First day of school). Most begin the week before, making Labor Day weekend the first three-day weekend of the school calendar, while others return the Tuesday following Labor Day, allowing families one final getaway before the school year begins. Many districts across the Midwest are opting to begin school after Labor Day.[12]

In the U.S. state of Virginia, the amusement park industry has successfully lobbied for legislation requiring most school districts in the state to have their first day of school after Labor Day, in order to give families another weekend to visit amusement parks in the state. The relevant statute has been nicknamed the "Kings Dominion law" after one such park.[13]

In Minnesota the State Fair ends on Labor Day. Under state law public schools normally do not begin until after the holiday. Allowing time for school children to show 4-H projects at the Fair has been given as one reason for this timing.[14]

In U.S. sports, Labor Day weekend marks the beginning of many fall sports. National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) teams usually play their first games that weekend and the National Football League (NFL) traditionally play their kickoff game the Thursday following Labor Day. The Southern 500 NASCAR auto race has been held on Labor Day weekend at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina from 1950 to 2003 and since 2015. At Indianapolis Raceway Park, the National Hot Rod Association hold their finals of the NHRA U.S. Nationals drag race that weekend. Labor Day is the middle point between weeks one and two of the U.S. Open Tennis Championships held in Flushing Meadows, New York.

In fashion, Labor Day is (or was) considered the last day when it is acceptable to wear white[15] or seersucker.[16][17]

The "unofficial beginning of summer" in the U.S. is Memorial Day at the end of May.

Labor Day sales[edit]

To take advantage of large numbers of potential customers with time to shop, Labor Day has become an important weekend for discounts and allowances by many retailers in the United States, especially for back-to-school sales. Some retailers claim it is one of the largest sale dates of the year, second only to the Christmas season's Black Friday.[18]


Year Labor Day
1900 1928 1956 1984 2012 2040 2068 2096 September 3
1901 1929 1957 1985 2013 2041 2069 2097 September 2
1902 1930 1958 1986 2014 2042 2070 2098 September 1
1903 1931 1959 1987 2015 2043 2071 2099 September 7
1904 1932 1960 1988 2016 2044 2072 [nb 1] September 5
1905 1933 1961 1989 2017 2045 2073 September 4
1906 1934 1962 1990 2018 2046 2074 September 3
1907 1935 1963 1991 2019 2047 2075 September 2
1908 1936 1964 1992 2020 2048 2076 September 7
1909 1937 1965 1993 2021 2049 2077 September 6
1910 1938 1966 1994 2022 2050 2078 September 5
1911 1939 1967 1995 2023 2051 2079 September 4
1912 1940 1968 1996 2024 2052 2080 September 2
1913 1941 1969 1997 2025 2053 2081 September 1
1914 1942 1970 1998 2026 2054 2082 September 7
1915 1943 1971 1999 2027 2055 2083 September 6
1916 1944 1972 2000 2028 2056 2084 September 4
1917 1945 1973 2001 2029 2057 2085 September 3
1918 1946 1974 2002 2030 2058 2086 September 2
1919 1947 1975 2003 2031 2059 2087 September 1
1920 1948 1976 2004 2032 2060 2088 2100 September 6
1921 1949 1977 2005 2033 2061 2089 2101 September 5
1922 1950 1978 2006 2034 2062 2090 2102 September 4
1923 1951 1979 2007 2035 2063 2091 2103 September 3
1924 1952 1980 2008 2036 2064 2092 2104 September 1
1925 1953 1981 2009 2037 2065 2093 2105 September 7
1926 1954 1982 2010 2038 2066 2094 2106 September 6
1927 1955 1983 2011 2039 2067 2095 2107 September 5

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The gap is caused by the fact that, under the Gregorian Calendar, the year 2100 is not a leap year, not being divisible by 400.


  1. ^ a b c The Bridgemen's magazine. International Association of Bridge. Structural and Ornamental Iron Workers. 1921. pp. 443–44. Archived from the original on October 9, 2013. Retrieved September 4, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "Origin of Labor Day," Cincinnati Tribune, September 1, 1895, Special Labor Day supplement, pg. 26.
  3. ^ a b c "United States Department of Labor: The History of Labor Day". Archived from the original on September 25, 2017. Retrieved November 3, 2017. 
  4. ^ "The Canadian Encyclopedia: Origins of Labour Day". Archived from the original on October 28, 2014. Retrieved September 5, 2011. 
  5. ^ a b "Knights of Labor". Progressive Historians. September 3, 2007. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. 
  6. ^ "On May Day and Occupy in the USA". The Leading Light. Archived from the original on May 28, 2016. 
  7. ^ Foner, Philip S. (1986). May Day: A Short History of the International Workers' Holiday, 1886–1986. New York: International Publishers. pp. 41–43. ISBN 0-7178-0624-3. 
  8. ^ "Online NewsHour: Origins of Labor Day – September 2, 1996". PBS. Archived from the original on January 22, 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-25. 
  9. ^ a b Brendan I. Koerner. "Why do we get Labor Day off". Slate Magazine. Archived from the original on September 5, 2010. 
  10. ^ Sally Kohn (September 1, 2014). "Why Labor Day was a political move". CNN. Archived from the original on January 25, 2016. Retrieved September 1, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Labor Day marks unofficial end of rainy summer". WBIR-TV10. September 2, 2013. Retrieved March 23, 2016. [permanent dead link]
  12. ^ Charles, C. M.; Senter, Gail W. (2008). Elementary classroom management. Pearson/Allyn and Bacon. p. 20. ISBN 978-0-205-51071-9. Archived from the original on January 7, 2014. Retrieved September 4, 2011. 
  13. ^ Freed, Benjamin (August 25, 2014). ""Kings Dominion Law" Still Reigns in Virginia". Washingtonian. Archived from the original on September 13, 2016. Retrieved September 5, 2016. 
  14. ^ "Commonly asked questions". Archived from the original on September 4, 2017. Retrieved November 27, 2017. 
  15. ^ Laura FitzPatrick (September 8, 2009). "Why We Can't Wear White After Labor Day". Time Magazine. Archived from the original on March 3, 2011. Retrieved February 25, 2011. 
  16. ^ Bell, Johnathan (May 9, 2011). "An Introduction to Seersucker for Men". Guy Style Guide. Archived from the original on April 19, 2012. Retrieved May 2, 2012. 
  17. ^ O'Brien, Glenn. "Daytime wedding after Labor Day: Is it OK to wear a light beige suit to a daytime wedding after Labor Day?". GQ. The Style Guy. Archived from the original on January 31, 2012. Retrieved May 2, 2012. 
  18. ^ "Labor Day Intention Still Holds Meaning". Tri Parish Times. August 30, 2012. Retrieved August 31, 2012. 


  • Green, James (2007). Death In the Haymarket: A Story of Chicago, the First Labor Movement and the Bombing that Divided Gilded Age America. Anchor. ISBN 1-4000-3322-5. 

External links[edit]