Why we celebrate Labor Day and the meaning behind it

Why we celebrate Labor Day and the meaning behind it – The extended weekend gives most Americans a much-needed chance to catch up with friends and family and offers a final celebration before the beginning of fall.
The holiday on Monday, however, has a deeper significance that dates back to the struggle for just working conditions in the 19th century. Initially, the purpose of Labor Day was to celebrate the contributions of workers to the American organised labour movement.

When Labor Day started

Why we celebrate Labor Day and the meaning behind it
Why we celebrate Labor Day and the meaning behind it


According to the US Department of Labor, Labor Day was first observed informally by labour activists and particular states in the late 1800s. Although Oregon was the first state to codify Labor Day into law in 1887, New York was the first state to introduce a measure recognising the holiday. By the end of 1887, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York had adopted a similar strategy.

According to Freeman, two occurrences that occurred in New York City coincided to create Labor Day. First, the Central Labor Union, now defunct, was established as a “umbrella body” for unions from all trades and racial backgrounds. In addition, the city hosted a meeting of the Knights of Labor, the then-largest national labour convention, replete with a sizable parade. However, because the parade was on a Tuesday at the beginning of September, many employees were unable to go.
The conference was a big success, and from the beginning of September, unions all over the country began hosting their own labour holidays, typically on the first Monday of the month.

According to Freedman, at first, participating “was a pretty risky move because you could get yourself fired.” But as time went on, more states started to observe the holiday, and more firms started to offer their staff the day off.
Congress didn’t enact a law making the first Monday in September a legal holiday known as Labor Day until June 28, 1894.

The evolution of Labor Day

The extreme politics surrounding Labor Day have mellowed over time. The majority of nations recognise their workers on May 1 with a holiday called May Day, which also has roots in the late 19th century and the struggle for the eight-hour workday. Freeman claims that Americans used to observe both May Day and Labor Day for a very long time.
In contrast to May Day, which was first instituted by the Marxist International Socialist Congress, Labor Day later came to be regarded as the more “moderate” of the two festivals.

Calls for changing American culture essentially stopped with the turn of the 20th century, according to Freeman. “As more and more firms started giving every employee a day off, it became less directly linked with unions.”
Labor Day celebrations briefly returned after World War II, particularly in Detroit and New York City. However, they had once more tapered off by the 1960s and 1970s.
It doesn’t really have a strong connection to its beginnings.

Can you wear white after Labor Day?

You may be familiar with the archaic prohibition against wearing white after Labor Day.
However, there are no fashion police watching to see if you wear a white shirt in September, so don’t worry about that. And the origin of the idea is actually somewhat troublesome.
According to Valerie Steele, a fashion historian and the head of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, the rule was just one of many 19th century fashion traditions that were meant to distinguish between the upper and middle classes.

White was associated to summer vacations — a privilege only few could afford. According to Steele, Labor Day symbolised for the upper classes their “reentry” into city life and the retiring of their white summer clothing after a leisurely summer.
However, according to Steele, the arbitrary rule all but vanished in the 1970s. Youth could challenge outdated stylistic conventions, such as the Labor Day restriction, thanks to the 1960s “Youthquake.”

Leave a Comment