When I was a kid, the Labor Day weekend signaled the end of summer, the precursor of going back to school and the cooling off of the weather. As I got older and joined the workforce, it was just an excuse for time off work.
This year, for some reason, I started actually thinking about Labor Day, how it began and what it symbolized. Since I really didn’t know much about it except it was time off work, I decided to do some research.
Labor Day is traditionally observed on the first Monday in September. It pays tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers. There is a debate about who actually came up with the idea for Labor Day. Peter J. McGuire, a carpenter and labor union leader, who was part of the labor movement in the late 19th century, is one candidate. The other is Matthew Maguire, a secretary of the Central Labor Union. Regardless of who actually came up with the idea, both thought American workers should be honored with their own day. This idea was proposed to New York’s Central Labor Union in early 1882, and they agreed.
The idea of a “workingmen’s holiday,” celebrated on the first Monday in September, caught on in other industrial centers across the country, and many states passed legislation recognizing it. On June 28, 1894, it became a federal holiday when President Grover Cleveland signed it into law.
So, folks, there’s your mini-history lesson.
This year I plan to celebrate my “workingwoman’s” holiday by spending it with my family and dogs, enjoying good food, great iced tea, and some time to relax.
I hope you get to do the same.