Each year, the first Monday in September marks Labor Day. On this day, many of you may be wondering about the origins of this holiday.
It all got started in 1882. There is some debate about who came up with the idea to celebrate American workers. The most widely held belief is that Matthew Maguire, a machinist, first proposed the holiday while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union of New York.
On the other hand, some argue it was Peter J. McGuire of the American Federation of Labor that proposed the idea in the same year. To this day, it's still unclear which man, both with the same last name, but spelled differently, actually invented it.
Either way, after gaining momentum, the first Labor Day holiday was celebrated in 1882 in New York City at the beginning of September. Oregon was the first state to make it an actual holiday on February 21, 1887. Thirty other states followed suit.
Fast forward to the early 1890s. A a bad recession had reduced demand for railway cars. This prompted Chicago railway tycoon George Pullman to lay off workers and reduce wages. Many of his employees went on strike.
Pullman workers started protesting in May 1894. The situation turned violent. Dozens of workers were killed by government forces.
To try to calm the unrest, the following month, Congress voted to approve rush legislation that made Labor Day a national holiday. They meant it as a way to honor workers.
More than 100 years later, the tradition is still going strong. Parades are a common way to celebrate. To take advantage of large numbers of potential customers free to shop, Labor Day has become an important sale weekend for many retailers. Some claim it's one of the biggest sale dates of the year, second only to the Christmas season's Black Friday.
Throughout American history, workers had to fight to get better pay and shorter hours. Evenings and weekends weren't handed over by lawmakers and managers.
While some may think of Labor Day as a bonus day off of school or work, historians said its true meaning is to symbolize the struggles and triumphs of workers all over the nation.