Why we celebrate labor day and the meaning behind it

Why do we celebrate Labor Day and what is the meaning behind it?

Labor Day is probably associated with shopping, family picnics, and the unofficial end of summer.

For most Americans, the long weekend is a much-needed opportunity to reconnect with friends and family and provides one last hurrah before the onset of fall.

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But Monday’s holiday has a deeper meaning, rooted in the 19th-century fight for fair working conditions. Labor Day was created to celebrate workers who were part of the American organized labor movement.

When Labor Day started,

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Labor Day was first celebrated unofficially by labor activists and individual states in the late 1800s. New York was the first state to introduce a bill recognizing Labor Day, but Oregon was the first to enshrine it in law in 1887. By the end of 1887, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York had adopted the same practice.

Joshua Freeman, a labor historian and professor emeritus at the City University of New York, tells CNN that the holiday developed as unions began to regroup after the Depression of the 1870s.

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Freeman says that in New York City, two events converged that contributed to the establishment of Labor Day. First, the now-defunct Central Labor Union was created as an “umbrella body” for trade and ethnic group unions.

Additionally, the Knights of Labor, the largest national labor convention at the time, held a convention in the city, complete with a large parade. However, because the parade was on a Tuesday in early September, many employees were unable to go.

The convention was a huge success, and unions across the country began holding their labor events in early September, usually on the first Monday of the month.

“It was a bit of a risky move to participate at first,” Friedman said, “because you could get fired.” But as time went on, other states started to observe the day, and it became customary for employers to give their staff the day off.

It wasn’t until June 28, 1894, that Congress passed an act naming the first day of September as a legal holiday as Labor Day.

Freeman says that earlier that year, President Grover Cleveland sent troops to crush the Pullman railroad strike. Days after the strike ended, Cleveland pushed for legislation to recognize Labor Day, Freeman said.

A marching band in the Labor Day parade in Silverton, Colorado in September 1940.

What does Labor Day mean?

At the time Labor Day was created, unions were fighting for “very specific improvements in their working conditions,” Freeman said. Workers fought hard for the eight-hour workday that most workers now have. And Labor Day was an opportunity for them to come together to discuss their priorities — and to recognize workers’ contributions to society.

But Freeman says there was also a more radical political thread to the Labor Day celebration. He explained that the Knights of Labor were investigating the premise that “what we call the capitalist or industrial system was fundamentally exploitative.” “He introduced disparities and injustices, not merely in income, but also authority.” So he wanted a greater say for the people working in society.”

“When Labor Day initially began,” Freeman added, “there were several voices essentially challenging this new institution.” Labor leaders at the time advocated alternatives to “capitalist wage systems” such as collective ownership of corporations or socialism.

Passengers line up at Denver International Airport’s south security checkpoint as the Labor Day holiday approaches, Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022.

The Evolution of Labor Day

Over time, radical politics became a rage around Labor Day. Around the world, most countries honor workers with a holiday called May Day, celebrated on May 1, which also originated in the late 19th century and fought for an eight-hour workday. . For a long time, Americans celebrated both May Day and Labor Day, Freeman says.

But eventually, Labor Day came to be seen as the more “moderate” of the two holidays, compared to May Day, originally established by the Marxist International Socialist Congress.

“The drive to better American living would evaporate from Labor Day toward the finish of the 20th hundred years,” Freeman forecasted. “Other associations made their entire staff available for the long weekend, so this was less clearly linked to affiliation.”

Labor Day celebrations were briefly revived after WWII, particularly in areas such as Detroit and New York City. But by the 60s and 70s, they were gone again.

“I acknowledge a large number of individuals are considering the completion of summer move away.” “It has nothing to do with its beginnings,” she said.

Can you wear white after Labor Day?

You’ve heard the old rule that you shouldn’t wear white after Labor Day.

But don’t worry: there are no fashion police out there to see if you wear a white shirt in September. And the idea has a very troubling background. Why we celebrate labor

According to Valerie Steele, a fashion historian and museum director at the Fashion Institute of Technology, this rule was one of many 19th-century style conventions used to distinguish between the upper and middle classes.

“As more average people, whether middle-class or lower-middle-class, can afford to dress elegantly, they grow more principled.”White was associated with summer vacationsβ€”a privilege only a few could afford.

Steele says that Labor Day represented a “re-entry” into city life and the retirement of the white clothes of the summer after the summer for the upper class.

But arbitrary rules disappeared during the 1970s, Steele says. The “youth earthquake” of the 1960s allowed young people to challenge old-fashioned norms, including those of Labor Day. Why we celebrate labor

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