TR Robertson — Monday, September 7th, will be one of the more unusual holidays during this COVID shut down. Labor Day is a federal holiday in the United States. Honoring the American labor movement and the works and contributions of laborers. It is always the first Monday in September and begins what is called the Labor Day Weekend. What is unusual, many laborers get the day off and schools are closed. With the effects of COVID on the workforce in the U.S., many laborers are already working from home and most schools in the U.S. are not fully open and students are also working from home. So, this holiday, for this year, allows most people that are affected by the holiday to stay home, where they are already staying, and students also get to remain at home.
In the late 19th century, trade unions and labor movements were growing. Trade unionists proposed that a day be set aside to celebrate labor. The idea of “Labor Day” was promoted by the Central Labor Union and the Knights of Labor. This group organized the first Labor Day Parade in New York City in 1882. Some credit P.J. McGuire, Vice President of the American Federation of Labor as the Father of Labor Day in the U.S. He had proposed, in 1882, a “general holiday for the laboring classes”. Oregon, in 1887, was the first state to make Labor Day an official public holiday. By the time it became an official federal holiday, in 1894, thirty states were already celebrating Labor Day. After 1930, all states, the District of Columbia and American territories have made Labor Day a statutory holiday.
Canada also celebrates Labor Day on the first Monday in September. There are more than 80 countries in the world that celebrate International Workers’ Day on May 1st. The United States has designated May 1st as Loyalty Day and Law Day, neither a federal holiday.
Traditionally, Labor Day is also called “the unofficial end of summer”. There was a time many school districts resumed classes, after their summer break, after the Labor Day weekend. This is no longer the case, even before COVID. There are some districts in the Midwest that still begin school after the Labor Day weekend. The state of Virginia’s amusement park industry once lobbied to have schools begin after the Labor Day weekend so they could take advantage of the final long weekend for families to visit the parks. This statute passed but was repealed in 2019.
Many of the Fall sports, most currently postponed until the Spring, use to begin after the Labor Day weekend. This tradition has also gone by the wayside, even before the COVID postponements. In an unusual Labor Day tradition, this day is considered the last day when it is acceptable to wear white of seersucker. Other events that are normally held on this weekend, which will probably be cancelled or put as a virtual celebration, are the Labor Day Carnival in New York, fireworks over Coney Island and the Labor Day concert at the U.S. Capitol put on by the National Symphony Orchestra.
One thing that will no be put on hold is the annual Labor Day Weekend sales and discounts advertised by numerous retailers. Some say this weekend sales event has traditionally been one of the largest sales dates of the year second only to the Christmas season’s Black Friday. It will be interesting to see how things go this year. Perhaps the internet sales will offset the number of shoppers visiting the stores.
Whatever the case, for those of you taking advantage of Labor Day – Stay Safe and enjoy the weekend. If you are out and about – keep social distancing, wear your mask, and keep calm.