Labor Day happens every year on the first Monday of September, but why do we celebrate it? It’s more than a day off or a marker for the nearing end of summer. Labor Day is a celebration of all the hard-working men and women who help keep our economy running smoothly. Here’s a quick look at how this holiday came to be.
A world without labor protections. Believe it or not, if you were working in 1800s-era America, chances are good your working conditions were unclean and unsafe. You were paid next to absolutely nothing. As robber barons increased their fortunes, and as their policies got more out of hand, workers started forming labor unions in an effort to protect themselves and ensure at least some kind of fair compensation for the hard work they contributed to the booming American economy.
Politics played a role. Like most major changes in American society, politics played a role in the formation of Labor Day. In the midst of an election battle, President Grover Cleveland decided to propose an official day celebrating the hard-working union men of America. What was probably a grab for votes (Cleveland at the time was known to be anti-union) was supported and celebrated by Congress, eventually making its way to Cleveland’s desk for his presidential seal of approval.
The rest is history. Although labor unions aren’t as prominent in today’s working culture as they once were, Labor Day is still a holiday we celebrate every year. Sure, it represents one of the last weekends of summer, but its original meaning still rings true. While you’re enjoying a barbecue with friends and family, or just spending some relaxing time off, take a few moments to reflect on the sacrifices made and the battles won in an effort to make this great holiday happen.