Labor Day is this Monday and for most that means a long weekend. AE Recycled Granite is closed Saturday through Monday, where we will be enjoying the weekend at our
house with a family BBQ. While many of us enjoy the extra day of relaxation that the holiday provides, few know of its history. For more than 100 years Labor Day has been a national holiday in the United States. Now simply part of a 3-day weekend, it was once a demand by the American workers to improve the quality of their lives.
The America of the late 19th century was very different than the one we live in today. While the weekend is an integral part of the modern American work-week, working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, was not uncommon for industrial workers at the time. Though shorter
hours and higher wages were desired, the process of enacting such change was slow and often faced strong resistance. It would be during this struggle that American workers would hold the first Labor Day celebration.
On the 5th of September, 1882, the first Labor Day Parade was held in New York City. The unofficial holiday was organized by the Central Labor Union and several thousand workers, who spent the day off from work at a large picnic. Although many risked their jobs to attend as it was not yet an official holiday, the message of the peaceful one-day strike was heard. Over the course of the next decade the celebration was made into state holidays in New York, Oregon, and many others. It would not be until 1894 that the holiday would be given national recognition, establishing that it would be celebrated on the first Monday of September.
The early days of the holiday featured great parades and union floats as a celebration of their accomplishment. As time went on such grand displays have fallen out of fashion. Most people nowadays utilize the free time in their own way, some using the day to relax at home, and others using the three-day weekend to go camping. There isn't a right way to celebrate this holiday, just having a day of relaxation truly captures its spirit. It is this holiday that reminds us to be grateful of the weekend, and to all the other conveniences that those before us did not possess.
So this Labor Day, go fishing, play your favorite game, or have a BBQ. It's up to you.