Labor Day originated as a celebration of the American labor movement in 1882 and was dedicated to the social and economic achievements of workers. Originally designed as a yearly national tribute to the contributions American workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. While history cannot agree on the founder of the Labor Day celebration, it is generally agreed that it was either Matthew Maguire or Peter J. Maguire. Either way, it was almost certainly a Maguire.
The holiday was originally held on September 5, but in 1894 the date was changed to the first Monday in September by President Grover Cleveland after a failed attempt to break up the Pullman Palace Car Company railroad strike resulted in the deaths of several workers.
Today the holiday represents the last three-day weekend of the summer for workers, as well as the first three-day weekend of the school year for children in most states. However, Labor Day is one of the largest shopping days of the year, following closely behind Black Friday in retail sales, and since nearly a quarter of the workforce in the United States work in retail, those workers are unable to participate, making the holiday somewhat ineffective in its original spirit. Often retail employees work longer hours than normal, and even lose a normally scheduled day off to meet the shopping demand.
For those lucky enough to have the day off, celebrations include parades in many cities, in addition to picnic lunches or cookouts, family get-togethers, and (where available) water sports such as swimming and boating. In many areas of the country, early September has some of the best weather of the year.
Representing summer’s last hurrah, most people try to fit in as much outdoor time as possible on Labor Day in anticipation of the long, dreary days of winter ahead.