What is Labor Day?


Emma Haag, Author

Know, I know that most of us are excited about our long weekend and not having to come to school on Monday. But, has anyone every wondered why we celebrate Labor Day?

As some of us know, the Labor Day holiday emerged from the late 19th century organized labor movement and it quickly become a national holiday as the labor movement assumed an important role in American society.

The very first Labor Day took place on September 5, 1882 in New York City. Laborers who were dissatisfied with the long, 16 hour work days and harsh working conditions, spent the unpaid day off protesting. Congress passed an act officially making Labor Day a federal holiday in 1894. It has been celebrated ever since!

“Yes I’m celebrating Labor Day this weekend, my grandparents are traveling to come visit my family and I.” said Great Bend High School junior Ashlyn Howard, “This weekend I am most excited to see my grandparents because I haven’t seen them since Thanksgiving last year. I think we celebrate Labor Day to commemorate American workers.”

So, why do we celebrate Labor Day?

At the height of the Industrial Revolution, in the late 1800s the average American worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks in order have a basic living. Also, children as young as 5 or 6 toiled in mills, factories and mines, earning a fraction of their adult counterparts’ wages, despite restrictions in some states.

Americans during that time, especially the poor, often faced extremely unsafe working conditions, with insufficient access to fresh air, sanitary facilities and breaks.