History of Labor Day: Why Isn’t It May 1st Like Other Countries?

First Celebration

Labor Day Backstory

The Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions had stated in 1884 that labor reform and the 8-hour workday would begin on May 1 in 1866. They had two years to implement it. On May 1, 1886, some 80,000 workers marched up Michigan Avenue in Chicago, arm-in-arm, carrying their Union banners. Some estimate that the total strike ranged from 300,000 to half a million workers. Two days later, on May 3rd, things turned violent. The Chicago police killed several striking workers at the McCormick Reaper Plant.

Haymarket Poster

U.S. Observance of Labor Day

Though Oregon was the first state to make it an official public holiday in the U.S., as I mentioned, it became a Federal holiday in 1894, at which time 30 states celebrated it. Now, all American states recognize it as a federal holiday. In the U.S., it is considered the unofficial end of summer, it being a three-day weekend ahead of the school term in some parts of the country. In days of yore, all school systems began then, as well as football. Now, school often starts in August, and football seems to run all year long, with occasional interruptions by baseball. Except during COVID-19.

Can You Wear White After Labor Day?

Coco Chanel


Writer and technologist. Author of fascinating articles about history, tech trends, and pop culture. billpetro.com @billpetro

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