Graphic by Chad Wyckoff

6 things you didn't know about Labor Day

  1.  Started out more like a protest than a celebration

The first known Labor Day parade was in 1882 in New York, organized by labor unions to coincide with the National Union Knights of America conference.

Long before the days of holiday BBQs, the first Monday of September was seen as a way for unions to raise awareness.

2.       Two unrelated people with the same last name may have founded it

There is an ongoing debate over whether Peter McGuire, cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, or Matthew Maguire, a mechanist, founded Labor Day.

 The two men were unrelated and worked in different industries.  

 3.        Most countries celebrate in May

 Most countries celebrate their nation’s workers on May 1st, known as International Workers Day.

 If it wasn’t for the National Union Knights of America conference being held in September in 1882, the U.S wouldn’t have a holiday to unofficially mark the end of summer.

4.       Many workers spend Labor Day laboring

 According to the Bloomberg BNA, 41% of employers require some of their employees to work on Labor Day.

 Several restaurants and retail stores see high sales on Labor Day, and actually schedule more employees to work rather than less.

5.       White after Labor Day?

The old saying “You can’t wear white after Labor Day” comes from the early 1900’s, when high profile women created a dress code for every season.

In today’s world, this has gone out the window and white clothes are often worn in the fall and winter months.

6.       The holiday has changed completely

Grover Cleveland officially made Labor Day a national holiday in 1894. Since then, the day has gone from big cities hosting union parades to families hosting poolside barbeques.

Either way, the holiday remains a special day to honor the millions of people in the Unites States workforce. 

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