What is Labor Day?
It’s Labor Day weekend in Shady Pines Story Town. But, the question is, why do we celebrate the first Monday in September as Labor Day? I’m Zulah Talmadge in the Shady Pines Gazette office and that’s the question we’re going to answer for you.
Labor Day is a holiday that celebrates the hard work and accomplishments of workers in America. On this day each year, we honor how they helped make our country strong and successful.
How Labor Day Started
In the 1800s, many people worked very long hours in unsafe factories or mines and didn’t make much money. Even young children about your age worked all day in these places and made even less money than the adults. Their job was much harder and more dangerous than the chores you do today, like cleaning your room and taking out the trash.
These workers joined unions, which were organized groups of workers created to look out for their members. Sometimes the union workers would hold marches and protests to complain about the bad conditions in which they worked and the low pay they received.
In September 5, 1882, union workers from many different trades, or kinds of jobs, took a day off and lost a day’s pay to march in New York City to demand better pay, fewer hours, and safer working conditions.
Many stayed after the march to have a picnic and enjoy their day off with other families in the park where the march ended. This became the first unofficial Labor Day parade.
Labor Day Becomes an Official Holiday
The celebration of workers became more popular in other parts of the United States every year. In 1887, Oregon was the first state to pass a law making Labor Day a holiday.
Just like playing ‘follow the leader’, other states like Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York also began passing laws in 1887 recognizing Labor Day as a holiday. Normally, colorful parades are held in cities all over the nation. This year, with the pandemic, that probably won’t happen. Large gatherings with bunches of people is not a good idea right now.
Oh, back to the story. In 1894, Congress passed an act that made Labor Day a national holiday that would be held on the first Monday of September every year to celebrate American workers. Some say the September date was chosen because it falls between the 4th of July and Thanksgiving.
But to tell you the truth, no one knows for sure if that’s the reason. One thing is for sure. You can still celebrate the day with a picnic. Being outside and social distancing, you can have plenty of good, old fashion, fun!
Working conditions have greatly improved in the United States since the 19th century. Even so, we still have a long way to go before all workers are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. You should ask your parents about the jobs they’ve had in the past and how they were treated. That could get really interesting.