Now You Know


How (and why) Labor Day became a National Holiday.

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“Lager beer kegs… mounted in every conceivable place.”

One description of the first Labor Day parade in New York City, 1882. Labor unions celebrated their trade with music and costumes. The parade ended with speeches, cigars and (ahem) beverages.
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Origin: Federal Holiday

  • Holiday’s founder debated. Labor unions advocated for it.
  • Celebrated first as a local or state holiday in the 1880s. 23 states had a statewide “Labor Day” before it was a national holiday.
  • 1894: Congress argued the working man needed a federal holiday, similar to others like Christmas, for a “reasonable amount of rest and recreation.”
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“By making one day in each year a public holiday for the benefit of workingmen the equality and dignity of labor is emphasized.”

Rep. Lawrence McGann (D-IL) May 15, 1894 appealing to Congress to recognize Labor Day as national holiday to celebrate the "nobility" of work.
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This year is the 125th anniversary of Labor Day as a Federal holiday. Interesting fact: Americans currently nearing retirement age have held an average of 12 jobs between the ages of 18-52.

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