Curious about the history of Labor Day? We dug up some back story on one of America's most anticipated three-day weekends.
Labor Day weekend is one of those few times when, for three days, it's downright unpatriotic to lift a finger around the house. DIYers across the country get a reprieve from their work, opting instead to spend play -- spending time with friends and family, relaxing on the beach, near a barbecue, at a picnic, or anyplace where sawdust, extension ladders, and power tools play no part.
But have you ever wondered why we celebrate Labor Day, and what sympathetic soul granted laborers their own holiday on the first Monday of each September? We did.
Labor Day was celebrated for the first time on September 5, 1882 (and 128 years later, the holiday lands on the 5th of the month again). It's unclear whose idea it was to dedicate a day to America's working class -- some believe it as Peter J. McGuire, secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, who dropped out of school at age 11 to help earn money for the family. Others believe it was Matthew Maguire of the International Association of Machinists.
What we do
know is that the Central Labor Union
led the event, and it was declared a national holiday two years later in 1884. It was the height of the Industrial Revolution, and millions of Americans (children included) were forced to work long hours in poor conditions, just to make enough money to get by. Trade unions were formed to help fight for the rights of workers. On that first Labor Day in 1882, a group of 100,000 laborers marched through the streets of New York, demanding better working conditions and fair treatment. The workers were speaking -- and two years later The New York Central Labor Union decided to listen, allowing them a three-day weekend to rest at the end of a long, laborious summer.
Over 100 years later, our lives are a lot more comfortable thanks to the rise of technology.. We may be more privileged than our ancestors, but we still love to (and in some cases, need to) work with our hands. DIYing is more popular now than ever
before -- and we have the good fortune to enjoy the work we do, and to do it on our own terms.
So give yourself a break this weekend: fire up the grill
, head to the ocean, or just curl up with your remote and your favorite home improvement shows
. You earned it!
How are you spending your Labor Day weekend? Let us know in the comments below!