Why Do We Celebrate Labor Day?

Billy Sakmann

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Isn’t it nice to have a long weekend after just the first week of classes? Full days off are scarce in college, so Labor Day is definitely welcomed in early September.

But, what exactly is Labor Day? Since Kindergarten we have had school off the first Monday in September, but never really understood or questioned why.

In the most basic sense, Labor Day is a day of rest for the American workforce, to honor and thank their contributions to society throughout the year with a day off on Monday – the start of the work week for many.

According to the United States Department of Labor, Oregon established the first Labor Day legislature on February 21, 1887. Several other states adopted the holiday in the coming years, and on June 28, 1894, Congress officially passed an act that would make the first Monday of every September a National holiday.

The original proposal for Labor Day included a parade put on for the workers followed by a festival for them and their families. Many towns still have Labor Day parades to this day, but the tradition has died out in many other places.

In addition, the tradition of actually giving workers the day off has also slowly fazed out over the years. While many businesses close or feature reduced hours, others do not and operate normally on the day designated to give hard laborers a break. Of course, all government entities still follow the Congressional Act and close operations on Labor Day.

Labor Day has also gained some other traditions over the years. Many consider Labor Day the unofficial end of the summer. Kids are going back to school, and the temperature is slowly declining. Though there is technically three weeks of summer left, something about September just does not feel like summer.

This ties into an homage that you “can not wear white after Labor Day.” With the unofficial end of summer comes the unofficial end of summer clothing. If you follow this belief, white clothing should not be worn again until Memorial Day.

Another Labor Day tradition that has caught on is sales at retail locations, most commonly back to school sales. Though some could argue this practice goes against the original intention of Labor Day, as Labor Day sales cause the need for more of the labor force to be at work on the first Monday in September.

Hopefully now you understand the privileged of a day off so early in the semester, and what the original intent of the holiday was. Unfortunately, aside from government services and most public and private schools closing, the actual workforce doesn’t get to this day as it was originally intended.


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The Student News Source of the University of New Haven
Why Do We Celebrate Labor Day?