If someone asked, “What is Labor Day?” could you answer it? Many people don’t know anything about the holiday other than that it is the first Monday in September and is the official end of summer.
The tradition of celebrating Labor Day as a national holiday is over one hundred years old. From its original conception as a labor union celebration, it has become symbolic of the end of summer.
It began in 1882 in New York as a parade by the Knights of Columbus to give credit to working-class citizens’ contributions to New York life. Then, in 1884, the Knights organized a large parade celebrating the working class. The first Monday in September was chosen for the parade date, and the Knights decided to hold all future parades on that day. From then on, the Knights designated the first Monday in September as Labor Day.
Toward the end of the last decade of the 1800s, labor organizations lobbied state legislatures to observe Labor Day as an official state holiday. In 1887, the first states declared it a state holiday: Oregon, Colorado, New York, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. Finally, in 1894, Congress passed a law that designated Labor Day as an official national holiday.
Labor Day is celebrated in the United States, Canada, and other industrialized countries. Though in the U.S., it is a public holiday that also designates the summer season’s end.