It’s Labor Day

It’s Labor Day in the United States and Canada — a day to reflect on the benefits we enjoy from the hard work and sacrifices made by the workers of today and those who came before us. First celebrated in 1882, the U.S. Department of Labor describes Labor Day this way:
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The form that the observance and celebration of Labor Day should take were outlined in the first proposal of the holiday — a street parade to exhibit to the public “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations” of the community, followed by a festival for the recreation and amusement of the workers and their families. This became the pattern for the celebrations of Labor Day.

Speeches by prominent men and women were introduced later, as more emphasis was placed upon the economic and civic significance of the holiday. Still later, by a resolution of the American Federation of Labor convention of 1909, the Sunday preceding Labor Day was adopted as Labor Sunday and dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement.
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We’ve come a long way from the 12-hour working days and 7-day working weeks of the late 1800s, and from the widespread use of child labor in the U.S. In fact, for many Americans, the significance of Labor Day is that it marks the beginning of the season for the National Football League and NCAA College Football. In any case, we’re taking the day off.

To learn more about the violent political origins of Labor Day, check out the Department of Labor’s website, the Labor Day History page of at History.com and the PBS Online NewsHour page on Labor Day.