Imagine how wonderful it would be if someone set aside a special day to celebrate all your achievements? Although great leaders and popular personalities often receive this great honor (E.g. we celebrate Pundit Nehru’s birthday as Children’s Day, and 2nd Oct. as Gandhi Jayanthi), we often forget to applaud the good deeds done by common workers and laborers. In the United States, the first Monday in September has been earmarked as a public holiday for precisely this purpose. Popularly known as Labor Day weekend, this holiday celebrates the socio-economic achievements of American laborers.
We can trace the origins of this holiday all the way back to the year 1882. There is intense debate among historians as to who first proposed the idea of a holiday to honor the common workers who sacrifice a lot for the betterment of the country. What everyone does agree upon is the fact that it was one among two gentlemen who can claim ownership to the suggestion: Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, or Matthew Maguire, who was secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York. Be that as it may, the first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City with a grand parade.
The Central Labor Union in New York repeated the Labor Day celebration in 1883. Soon, other cities and states began following the example set by the New Yorkers. Then, under the urgings of labor unions, the US Congress passed a bill in 1894 recognizing the first Monday in September as an official national holiday. It is rumored that labor unions in the US decided to forgo the European labor celebrations of May 1st, since it was a relic of the communist regime. They also decided to stick with the first Monday in September since the holiday then falls in between two other national holidays: 4th of July and Thanksgiving.
Today, the grand parades and labor rallies of the past have been replaced with the quintessential American barbeque parties in people’s backyards. The holiday is also an opportunity for Americans to bask in the final rays of the summer sun. It is also an exciting time for school-goers, since it marks the beginning of the new academic calendar.