As we go into Labor Day weekend in the United States and Canada (Labour Day), we thought it would be interesting to look at the origins of this symbolic end-of-summer holiday.
Labor Day has its roots in the workers' movement of the late 1800s and is celebrated on May 1st in many countries around the world. Sometimes called International Workers' Day or May Day, the significance of this date relates to the "Haymarket Massacre" on that day in Chicago in 1886. Laborers were protesting the long working hours to which they were subjected and were pushing for an eight-hour workday, leaving eight hours for leisure and eight more for sleeping. A scuffle with police resulted in tragedy and the date lived on in infamy.
Ironically, it was the U.S. that moved the date of its Labor Day commemoration to the first Monday in September to dissociate from the riots of 1886. Moving it to the end of summer also distanced the U.S. from the May Day celebrations of European countries and, during the Cold War, away from the Soviet Union and its annual lavish celebration of Communism. May Day remains a national workers' holiday in more than 80 countries around the world.
A bit of trivia: the edict to not wear white after Labor Day comes from the tradition in the U.S. Navy to switch from their white uniforms to blue ones after Labor Day.
If you're in the U.S. and Canada, enjoy the long weekend, and your last chance to wear white.
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