Labor Day

Appropriately Nicknamed: “Unofficial End of Summer”

Modern Labor Day Long Weekend Means Family, Shopping, & Relaxation

Unlike its name implies (for most people), Labor Day serves to remind us that there are school clothes and supplies to buy, lawns to mow, family BBQ’s, and an extra day to sleep in before we are expected to begin the underappreciated chores of Fall.

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Symbolically and Historically Speaking, this day symbolizes a national tribute to the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. Although celebrated in other countries, Its original purpose and intent was established to honor the American worker.

The idea of Labor Day came about and grew from the growth of trade unions and labor movements as a day to celebrate labor previously celebrated only by different groups of trade unionists. It’s official date was proposed in the 1880’s.

What Day Is Labor Day Celebrated?

First Monday every September.

25 Labour Day Interesting Facts:

  1. Fashionistas considered Labour Day the last ‘acceptable’ day to wear seersucker, or white fabrics.
  2. It is touted as the second largest sale shopping day of the year, right after the seasonal After Christmas Sales (aka Black Friday Sales).
  3. The US Tennis Championships are exactly at the middle point of week one and week two on Labor day.
  4. It designates the beginning of Fall Sports.
  5. Street parades were and are common and signaled the original celebration days pattern of events, followed by family festivals.
  6. Street parades were originally intended for the general public and were celebrated to demonstrate and appreciate the work of trade and labor unions.
  7. President Grover Cleveland officially signed into law the legislation to mark Labor Day as an official holiday.
  8. Other countries celebrate Labor Day, but the significance of the celebrating is less tied to labor organization than it is to create a holiday day for people to relax.
  9. Some explanations on choosing the date, the first Monday each September, say that it was chosen to create a holiday gap for the long stretch of time between Independence Day and Thanksgiving.
  10. 1887 marks Oregon’s (the first US state) entry into the acceptance of this day as an official public holiday.
  11. Originally, Labor day was a day of speeches as well as parades and picnics, but present day celebrations have moved away from those speeches.
  12. Although opinion on the founder of Labor Day is divided, there is no dispute that it was the Central Labor Union that both proposed and appointed a committee to plan the day’s events of what became this national holiday. The massive parade of unions (some estimate worker parade marchers between 10,000-20,000 men and women, many of whom lost a day of pay to participate) and picnic celebrations statewide marked its landmark beginning.
  13. In tribute to the overwhelming success of that day’s celebrations, the first newspaper headline proclaimed, “a day of the people.”  Although other headlines were varied in review, prominent headlines for that first Labor Day celebration displayed copy proclaiming the day’s ‘success.’
  14. The first Labor Day parade was delayed at 10 am, because the marchers who had shown up initially and on time, had no music. To the delight of parade watchers and participants, after that initial starting delay, it was announced that the first marchers to cross the ferry were the Jewelers Union of Newark Two and they . . . ‘brought a band!’
  15. The first song played by this Jewelers Union was, “When I First Put This Uniform On,” from Patience, an opera by Gilbert and Sullivan.  Listen to a youtube rendition from the play – Listen Here.  For the song lyrics from the play, go to the Gilbert & Sullivan archive page – See Here
  16. The first Labor Day picnics (In New York) lasted from 1 to 9 pm that day and nearly 25,000 union members and their families came to celebrate it.
  17. Of the many icons that commemorate Labor Day, Rosie the Riveter is one of the most famous icon from World War II.  To this day her image is recognized and copied in many different forms.  For Example:  
  18. The popular image of Rosie The Riveter was originally created by Norman Rockwell, but it was the corporate giant, Westinghouse, that commissioned the original artist, J. Howard Miller, to make and promote the original poster series for the war effort. His original poster of a woman with her hair wrapped in a red polka-dot scarf, while holding up her arm in a flexed bicep position and wearing a collared shirt with a rolled up sleeve came to be known as the “Rosie” image, but the image was never intended to be an icon at its inception.
  19. Coupled with the song, “Rosie the Riveter,” and the image of “Rosie, ” along with the caption blue bubble over her head stating, “We Can Do It!” Rosie the Riveter,” became an icon of that a more recent era.  For an original rendition of ‘Rosie the Riveter,’ including lyrics – SEE HERE.
  20. The Norman Rockwell image of Rosie the Riveter,” differed from that of J. Howard Miller . Rockwell’s image was of a woman wearing overalls, goggles, and honor pins on her lapel, wearing a leather wrist band and rolled up sleeves, while sitting with a riveting tool in her lap, eating a sandwich, and stepping on a copy of Adolph Hitler’s book, “Mein Kampf.” This Rockwell image graced the cover of The Saturday Evening Post on May 29, 1943.  
  21. If you worked for a wartime plant or factory during WWII, you had to wear your employment badge at all times. Miller created a collar pin employment badge for his image of Rosie the Riveter.
  22. The model for Rosie the Riveter was Geraldine Hoff Doyle. Ms. Doyle was 17 years-old at the time and lived to be 86 years old. She passed on December 26, 2010.
  23. The 1943 Post article sparked Rosie stories country-wide.
  24. One main function of the labor union movement was to renegotiate and end the 12-hour, 7-day work week.  In its place became the 8-hour day movement which workers agreed that this meant 8 hours work, 8 hours play, 8 hours rest.
  25. Children aged 5 and 6-years old, elderly, the poor, new migrants and others desperate for jobs often endured sub-human working conditions and wages at a fraction of what others received. Strikes and protests against these unfair and inhuman working conditions often erupted in violence and deaths (as evidenced by the Haymarket Riot of 1886-READ MORE ).
For a history of Labor Day from the Department of Labor (DOL):  SEE HERE
For the DOL historian perspective of Linda Stinson, former DOL Historian:  SEE HERE
For a description on the first Labor Day celebration:  SEE HERE
For a history of Rosie The Riveter labor Icon:  SEE HERE