The first Monday in September wasn’t always considered an official rest from work. According to the Department of Labor’s website, the first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City. Over time, the movement to recognize Labor Day grew–first with a handful of municipal ordinances, then state legislation. Finally, in 1894, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday.
Why care? Because of Labor Day’s history. Said Samuel Gompers, founder and longtime president of the American Federation of Labor:
“Labor Day differs in every essential way from the other holidays of the year in any country. All other holidays are in a more or less degree connected with conflicts and battles of man’s prowess over man, of strife and discord for greed and power, of glories achieved by one nation over another. Labor Day . . . is devoted to no man, living or dead, to no sect, race or nation.”
Rather, it celebrates the social and economic achievements of American workers, and the contributions they have made to the strength, prosperity and well-being of our country.