What is Labor Day All About?

Labor Day

Labor Day is a national holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September every year in the United States. This year, Labor Day falls on Monday, September 5th, 2022. This date honors laborers in America and their contributions to the development of the United States, the achievements laborers have helped the country reach, and labor policy in America. This federal holiday recognizes the American labor movement. You may know this holiday as your last three-day weekend in the summer, but there is also a deep history of the day as well.


Labor movements began to grow in the late 1800s as well as trade unions. Unionists initially proposed to set aside a day which would celebrate labor. A Labor Day parade was organized in New York by the Knights of Labor and the Central Labor Union, and eventually Oregon was the first state to officially recognize the day as a public holiday. In 1894, Labor Day became an officially recognized federal holiday. Although most states had already officially recognized the holiday, President Cleveland and other lawmakers in DC wanted a federal holiday celebrating and honoring labor after violence related to the Pullman railroad strike. This strike consisted of two interrelated strikes that were important factors in shaping national labor policy in the United States.

Theories of the origins of Labor Day are debated. One account states that with the General Assembly of the Knights of Labor in New York in September of 1882, Secretary of the Central Labor Union Matthew Maguire first proposed a national Labor Day to be celebrated on the first Monday of September every year after this successful NYC Labor Day parade celebration.

Another account says that the vice president of the American Federation of Labor Peter J. McGuire came up with the idea of celebrating Labor Day after visiting Toronto where people were celebrating labor in May. He had apparently put forth a proposal for a general holiday celebrating the laboring classes after his trip.

Both Maguire and McGuire are linked to the proposal of celebrating Labor Day and that initial parade celebration, and were from rival labor unions. To this day, there is disagreement about who is responsible for the holiday. Early on in the 1800s, celebrations for Labor Day focused more on parades in urban areas, but now it honors laborers with more activities and less parades to mark the end of the summer.

Interesting Facts

Canada’s Labor day is celebrated on the first Monday of September. Canada is said to have originated the idea of honoring and celebrating laborers on a specific holiday as well.

The national hot dog season starts on Memorial Day and ends on Labor day.

McGuire stated that he suggested the first Monday in September for Labor Day because of its ideal weather and how the date sits midway between the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving.

The tradition of not wearing white after Labor Day has passed goes back to the Victorian era. It was considered a fashion mistake among the upper class to wear any white after the holiday had passed and summer was officially finished because white demonstrated still being in vacation mode at one’s summer cottage. An interesting origin, but people don’t really follow this tradition any longer.

Although Labor Day is said to end the perceived summer, there are still many activities to enjoy. With the start of the football season and nice weather ahead, we hope you enjoy the rest of the season!

More US History

If you want to learn more about the history of our nation, join us on one of our informative and fun golf cart tours around the nation’s capital. Our nation’s capital is home to many great landmarks and memorials. If you’re looking for a stress free, educational, and fun way to visit the spectacular sites, we’d love to accommodate you with our narrated tour down Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House to the Capitol and through the heart of the National Mall where you can see various monumental landmarks, memorials, and other sites that show the interesting details of the nation’s capital. There are many occasions to stop and take photos along the way. Once at the Capitol, you may choose the route to include your priorities of special interest, or allow our professional guides to take you along on a journey of discovery and entertainment! Book your tour now!