What is Labor Day and Why Do We Celebrate It?

Labor Day Work Banner

Every year on the first Monday of September, families gather to celebrate Labor Day and revel in the sun. But have you ever sat to think about the origins of Labor Day? While this holiday may be the perfect excuse to enjoy a three-day weekend, there’s more to Labor Day than meets the eye. The holiday itself is a tribute to American workers. Keep reading to learn more about what Labor Day celebrates, the Labor Day meaning,  and how you can partake in the festivities this year on Monday, September 6, 2021. 

When is Labor Day?

Labor Day is an annual holiday that occurs on the first Monday of September as a way to commemorate the labor movement and celebrate hard-working Americans. You can celebrate Labor Day this year on September 6, 2021. Below are the dates for future Labor Day holidays, so you can make sure to mark your calendar: 

  • September 5, 2022
  • September 4, 2023
  • September 2, 2024
  • September 1, 2025
  • September 7, 2026

History of Labor Day

The origins of Labor Day can be traced back to the 1800s when the Industrial Revolution was at its peak. During this time, adults and children were working in unsafe conditions to simply make ends meet. This included: 

  • 12-hour workdays 
  • Working six or seven days a week 
  • Working in crowded and poorly ventilated areas 

As frustration grew, people would voice their concerns and opinions with rallies and strikes. On September 5, 1882, 10,000 workers took unpaid time off and marched from New York City’s City Hall to Union Square. In attendance were labor union members, such as bricklayers, dressmakers, typographers, and more. This is claimed to be the first Labor Day parade in the United States. 

Thanks to this, numerous states had adopted a workingmen’s holiday that paid tribute to the contributions of working-class Americans and the labor movement that aimed to provide a safe environment for all. By 1894, 24 states had declared Labor Day an official holiday. 

On June 28, 1894, former United States President Grover Cleveland made Labor Day a federal holiday that would be observed annually on the first Monday of September. 

When Was the First Labor Day?

There is some uncertainty surrounding who is the founder of Labor Day. Some records suggest that it was Peter J. McGuire, the co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, who called for a day to honor workers. However, others also claim that this title belongs to Matthew Maguire, a mechanist and secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York. Despite these conflicting ideas, the first Labor Day on record was created by the Central Labor Union.

The first Labor Day celebrations took place on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City. This Labor Day was planned and executed by the Central Labor Union. It included picnics, demonstrations, speeches, fireworks, and even dancing. Due to its success, the Central Labor Union hosted a second Labor Day the following year on the same day. Plus, various states followed suit soon after. 

Labor Day Party with Grill

Why Do We Celebrate Labor Day?

We celebrate Labor Day as a way to honor the achievements of hard-working individuals in the United States and the labor movement that made it possible for us to work in a secure and clean environment. Now instead of protests and demonstrations, we enjoy the day with parades, delicious barbecues, fireworks, picnics, and more. 

Unofficial End of Summer

For many Americans, Labor Day signifies the end of summer, which is why they take the opportunity to celebrate the holiday with parties, parades, and other fun events with loved ones. Make the Labor Day weekend extra memorable by enjoying it in a unique way. Here are a few ideas to help you celebrate Labor Day: 

  • Have a BBQ and invite your friends and family. You can also take this opportunity to share the history of Labor Day with them. 
  • Give back to your community by sharing gifts of appreciation, such as cookies or bright fresh flowers, to those who may not have the holiday off. Many people drop off snacks at police departments and firehouses. 
  • Purchase items that are made locally to support your neighborhood workers and stimulate the local economy. 

Labor Day is so much more than an excuse for a weekend getaway. At the end of the day, it’s about honoring the efforts taken to ensure a safe workplace for everyone. 

Remember, Labor Day this year is on Monday, September 6, 2021, so don’t forget to mark your calendar! Not only is it a great way to send off the summer season, but it’s your opportunity to pay tribute to all the hard-working Americans that keep the nation running. Say thank you to those workers that have impacted your life with our collection of Labor Day flowers and unique Labor Day gifts