Celebrating Labor Day

graphic of red and white wave rolling over blue background with white stars

The tradition of celebrating Labor Day as a national holiday is over one hundred years old. From its original conception as a labor union celebration, it has grown to be symbolic of end-of-summer activities.

It began in 1882 in New York as a parade by the Knights of Columbus to give credit for the contributions of working class citizens. In 1884, the first Monday in September was chosen for the date of the parade that year, and the Knights decided to hold all future parades on that day. From then on the Knights designated the first Monday in September as Labor Day.

Toward the end of the 1800s, labor organizations began to lobby state legislatures to observe Labor Day as an official state holiday. In 1894, Congress passed a law that designated Labor Day as an official national holiday. Labor Day is currently celebrated in the United States, Canada, and other industrialized countries.