History of Labor Day: 5 Need-to-Know Facts

kids poolDid you wake this morning and think, "Holy white pantsuits -- it's September!!" I know I did. I can't believe that the summer is almost over, that Labor Day is just a few days away. There was so much I was supposed to do in August, like go tubing down a river, eat crabs outside, and ride a roller coaster. Alas, I watched seasons one through three of Damages and prepared for a hurricane. Lamesies. There is a silver lining though -- Labor Day is pretty sweet. It's a time to take a few last dips in the pool, soak up those final rays, and celebrate our conclusive weekend defense against the impending frozen dreadfulness that is a northeastern winter.

In its honor, here are five historical facts about Labor Day. Starting with how we should all thank Canada.

  1. Labor Day has its origins in the Great White North. Due to the 1870s labor disputes in Toronto, workers took to the streets in 1872 in protest of the normal 58-hour work week. Ten years later, in 1882, tens of thousands of American workers paraded in New York City on September 5. It's then (9/5/1882) that marks the first official American Labor Day.
  2. So what did the workers on parade want? An eight-hour work day instead of the 12-hour work day. Amen!
  3. Oregon was the first state to officially declare Labor Day a statewide holiday in 1887, and President Grover Cleveland signed into law a national holiday in 1894, giving all Americans off on the first Monday in September.
  4. The "no white after Labor Day" fashion credence is steadily losing its foothold. It was believed to have started as a symbolic gesture of the well-to-do returning to the city after their time of leisure in warmer climates.
  5. Labor Day is the unofficial end of summer, but it also marks the beginning for things like school and the NFL and college football seasons. Go Eagles!

How will you spend your Labor Day?

Photo via AnneCN/Flickr

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