By Felicia Farnsworth
This year Labor Day falls on Monday, September 6, 2021. Labor Day honors and recognizes the American Labor Movement and the work and contributions of laborers to the development and achievements of the United States, according to Wikipedia.
The trade unions and labor movements were growing rapidly in the late 1800s, early 1900s. Because of this growth, different groups of trade unionists chose to celebrate their labor and had various dates to choose from.
Although Peter J.(P.J.) McGuire is the most known for founding Labor Day; there is an alternate story of origin. Early history states that the origin is connected with a General Assembly of the Knights of Labor who convened in New York City in 1882.
Along with the Knights of Labor assembly, other labor organizations held a public parade on September 5, 1882, under the Central Labor Union (CLU) of New York. Matthew Maguire, secretary of the CLU, is credited for being the first to propose that Labor Day should become a national holiday and be held on the first Monday of each September.
Others say the idea was thought up by P.J. McGuire, a Vice President of the American Federation of Labor, after visiting Toronto and witnessing parades celebrating labor. P.J. McGuire proposed that a day be set aside for a “general holiday” for the laboring classes, on May 8, 1882.
McGuire presented the proposition to the CLU in New York and recommended that the day start with a parade followed by a picnic in which participating local unions could sell tickets as a fundraiser. Labor Day picnics and gatherings often had speeches from prominent labor leaders.
Labor Day became an official holiday in 1894, with 30 states already celebrating the holiday. President Grover Cleveland signed the bill into law on June 28, 1894. The high society snobs of the time introduced the term “Don’t wear white after Labor Day.” This was a means for the high-society of the 19th century to weed out “new money” from established money.
The women in that class felt as though they were being invaded upon. Labor Day became more of a checkpoint at the end of the summer social season. In the early 19th century, it was known that the lighter, cooler fabrics were worn during the summer months, and the darker, warmer fabrics were worn during the fall and winter months.
Coco Chanel and the former first lady Michelle Obama have thrown out this rule and made it a thing of the past. With Labor Day being the “unofficial end of summer,” many school districts begin their school year either just before Labor Day or after it. Labor Day weekend also marks the beginning of many fall sports, including; NCAA, NFL, NASCAR, NHRA, and is the middle point between weeks one and two of the U.S. Open Tennis Championships.
In observance of Labor Day, many companies have company picnics to honor their workers. Some Businesses and government buildings are closed on Labor Day, allowing their employees to relax and unwind. Some cities still have parades to honor Labor Day, and some towns may even celebrate with fireworks or host a festival. However you decide to celebrate Labor Day, please do so locally and support the small businesses in Bullock County.