Labor Day Collage

Ready to Celebrate Labor Day?

By Alex Batty, MHI Marketing Communications Coordinator |@mhi_alex

We’re one week out from Labor Day, which means a day off (yes, please), but do we know why we get the day off? Growing up, all I knew about Labor Day was that it was the first holiday off once school started; a nice “pretend school hasn’t started” day to give a last hurrah to summer (and maybe grill some tasty eats). And of course, that you’re not supposed to wear white after Labor Day, a rule which I have never understood nor adhered to, but I digress.

But why do we actually have Labor Day? Since my knowledge is limited to the above, I turned, as many of my generation do, to the internet and began my quest for knowledge. It is, as it turns out, a holiday to celebrate laborers, or workers, as the name would suggest. The first Labor Day was officially celebrated in 1882 in New York City, planned by the Central Labor Union. It was originally celebrated using a parade to show esprit de corps of labor organizations and then a festival afterward for family fun.

Over time, as industrial- and labor-focused job availability fell due to cultural expectations and technological shifts, most Americans just use it as a day off and don’t think about the original Labor movement the day stemmed from. Culturally, it’s the unofficial bookend of summer that started with Memorial Day. School starts, sportsing starts, the weather changes, but perhaps take a moment, as the official US Department of Labor page suggests, and “pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom, and leadership — the American worker.”

P.S. Labor Day is not only the last day to wear white, but also a fabric called seersucker. Go figure.