It’s Monday morning and you wake up with the feeling that you have to go to work. Except… you realize that it’s Labor Day. The holiday represents two things for most Americans: a day off and the end of summer. But what exactly are we celebrating? The reason might make you appreciate your time off a little more.
Labor Day is exactly what it says. It’s the celebration of labor— of the working men and women of America.
American workers in the 1800s worked under intolerable conditions with 12 or more hour workdays and dangerous settings. Children were even working in factories at the age of five.
In 1882, thousands of workers took unpaid time off to march in a parade in New York City. The “workingmen’s holiday,” caught on with many states recognizing it but it wasn’t made into a holiday by Congress just yet.
Three years later, a strike took place in Chicago after wage cuts occurred for the workers of the Pullman cars used for railroad transportation. The strike involved about 250,000 workers in over 25 states resulting in a wave of riots and the death of more than 12 workers.
In efforts to repair ties with laborers, Congress made Labor Day a legal holiday to honor the contributions working men and women have made for the country.
Now that you know the deeper meaning, go celebrate the original spirit of Labor Day with the day off and a barbeque like the workers did over a century ago.