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Why Do We Celebrate Labor Day?

Last Updated on August 22, 2023 / Communications

A variety of work tools with the sign "labor day"

HR Question:

While the US recognizes several national holidays throughout the year, it’s easy to get caught up and forget the reason behind the day. So, why do we celebrate Labor Day?

HR Answer:

Its title gives a clue to this holiday’s purpose as many of us understand Labor Day to be a national holiday dedicated to honoring the American workforce. But how and when did this start?

How Labor Day Began

When the Industrial Revolution was in full swing, workers faced abhorrent conditions. Employees were overworked, underpaid, and found themselves working in difficult and sometimes dangerous conditions just to make a living. As a result, the first labor unions began to come together, protesting these unsafe and unsanitary environments, as well as the low wages and long hours.

The labor movement of the 1880s-1890s shined a light on the need to improve the lives and working conditions of American workers, as well as the need to recognize how they contributed to the prosperity and success of our country. According to the Department of Labor, the first Labor Day holiday and parade was hosted in New York City in 1882. After this initial celebration, many labor activists and states began to celebrate the holiday in the years that followed until it became a national holiday in 1894.

Celebrating Labor Day – Then and Now

The first Labor Day celebrations were marked with parties with friends and families. These traditions also included a parade to celebrate work and the strength, grit, and value of those who had laid the groundwork for such a holiday.

Many cities have taken on their own traditions, including expanding upon the parades with festivals, large celebrations, and as in Cincinnati, Ohio’s case, large fireworks shows.

On this upcoming Labor Day, we hope you can take the time to safely enjoy your day with family and/or friends, and to take a few moments to reflect on the hard-fought victories for America’s workforce.

Strategic HR is always interested in helping people to achieve their best and fulfill their dreams. If you happen to be looking to enter the workforce, or perhaps looking to explore a new career opportunity, we invite you to explore our clients’ career opportunities or learn more about our Career Coach services. We’d be honored to help you achieve your American dream.