Because my birthday falls on or near Labor Day every year, I’ve always told folks that I’m the one giving them the day off. But the truth is that it started between 70 and 100 years before I was born. (See how I did that without actually giving you my age?) Labor Day was first recognized as a holiday in 1887 by Oregon, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York. Other states followed and in 1894 President Grover Cleveland signed the holiday into law, following a labor strike that shut down the national transportation system.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, this day is really all about celebrating all of us. It is a “national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.” I’ve never been to or seen a Labor Day parade, but according to early organizers that’s how we should mark Labor Day. The street parade to exhibit to the public “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations” of the community, is supposed to be followed by a “festival for the recreation and amusement of the workers and their families.” So, if you’re celebrating the weekend with a picnic with friends, you’re doing just what you ought to be doing!
However you celebrate, I thought you might enjoy these photos from the U.S. Department of Labor of celebrations of Labor Days past!