Monday, September 01, 2008

Labor Day

This holiday began a lot longer ago than you may think. The Central Labor Union of New York, an early confederation of workers, help the first parade and picnic of laborers in New York on the first Monday in September in 1882. A machinist named Matthew Maguire, later the secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, N.J., is credited with proposing the holiday.

By 1884 the First-Monday-in-September parade in New York had grown exponentially. By the first Monday in September 1885, Labor Day was being celebrated by workingmen in many industrialized cities across the country.

In 1887, Oregon, Colorado, New York, Massachusetts, and New Jersey recognized Labor Day as state holidays. Other states followed. Then in 1894, the U.S. Congress passed a law recognizing Labor Day as an official national holiday.

Classic Labor Day celebrations have always included a street parade of union members "to exhibit to the public the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations of the community, followed by a festival for the recreation and amusement of the workers and their families."

While the holiday became identified with the Democratic Party, in Newport, Rhode Island, and other watering holes of the super-rich, Labor Day became a boundary marker after which it was considered unfashionable to wear summer whites.

To each his own.

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