(Aug. 31, 2013) This Monday, Sept. 2, is Labor Day, a national holiday honoring all American workers. The weekend is the unofficial end of summer and is marked by end-of-the-season neighborhood picnics and swim parties.
For many countries (more than 80 world wide), "Labour Day" is synonymous with, or linked with, International Workers' Day, which occurs on May 1. It is a celebration of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity and well-being of their country. In the United States and Canada it is celebrated the first Monday in September.
In the U.S., this day was promoted by the Central Labor Union and the Knights of Labor, who organized the first parade in New York City. After the Haymarket Massacre, President Grover Cleveland feared that commemorating Labor Day on May 1 could become an opportunity to commemorate the affair. Thus, in 1887, it was established as an official holiday in September to support the Labor Day that the Knights favored.
The form for the celebration of Labor Day was outlined in the first proposal of the holiday: A street parade to exhibit to the public "the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations," followed by a festival for the workers and their families. This became the pattern for Labor Day celebrations. Speeches by prominent men and women were introduced later, as more emphasis was placed upon the civil significance of the holiday. Still later, by a resolution of the American Federation of Labor convention of 1909, the Sunday preceding Labor Day was adopted as Labor Sunday and dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the Labor movement.
Labor Day often marks the return to school, although school starting times now vary, some before and others following the date, often depending on how early or late the day falls as well as other holidays.