This is a look at the commemoration of the Labor Day, Also known as Labor Day, a national holiday celebrated in the United States and Puerto Rico to honor workers. In 2022, Labor Day is September 5.
- Labor Day is celebrated on the first Monday in September.
- In many other countries, the Workers’ Day (May 1) It is the day in which workers are honored. Most of Europe celebrates the first of May.
- For many, Labor Day symbolizes the end of summer.
- In July 2021, there were more than 161 million people in the workforce in the United States.
You probably associate Labor Day with sales, family barbecues and the unofficial end of summer.
When Labor Day started
What Labor Day means
At the time Labor Day was formed, unions were fighting for “very specific improvements in their working conditions,” Freeman said. Workers were fighting hard for the eight-hour work day most workers enjoy today. And Labor Day was an opportunity for them to come together to discuss their priorities — and for the country to acknowledge the contributions workers make to society.
But there was also a more radical political thread to the Labor Day celebration, Freeman says. The Knights of Labor were exploring the idea that “what we call the capitalist or industrial system was fundamentally exploitative,” he said. “It introduced kind of inequities and inequalities, not just in wealth, but also in power. So they wanted a greater say in society for working people.”
“Back when Labor Day began, there were a lot of voices that were fundamentally challenging this emerging system,” Freeman added. Labor leaders at the time advocated for alternatives to the “capitalist wage system,” like collective ownership of corporations or socialism.
The evolution of Labor Day
Over time, the radical politics around Labor Day became tempered. Around the world, most countries honor workers with a holiday called May Day, celebrated on May 1, which also has its origins in the late 19th century and the fight for the eight-hour work day. For a long time, Freeman says, Americans celebrated both May Day and Labor Day.
But eventually, Labor Day began to be seen as the more “moderate” of the two holidays, in comparison to May Day, which was originally established by the Marxist International Socialist Congress.
“By the turn of the 20th century, calls for transforming American life, they pretty much disappear from Labor Day,” Freeman said. “As more and more employers began to give all their workers the day off, it became less associated specifically with unions.”
After World War II, Labor Day celebrations had a brief revival, especially in cities like Detroit and New York City. But by the 60s and 70s, they had tapered off again.
“I think most people just think of as the end of summer holiday,” Freeman said. “It’s not really associated with its origins that much.”
Can you wear white after Labor Day?
You might have heard the outdated rule that you shouldn’t wear white after Labor Day.
But don’t worry: There’s no fashion police out there waiting to see if you don a white shirt in September. And the idea actually has a pretty problematic origin.
The rule was one of many 19th century style customs used to distinguish the upper and middle classes, according to Valerie Steele, a fashion historian and director of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology.
“As you got more and more sort of ordinary people, whether middle class or lower middle class, being able to have enough money to try to dress fashionably, then there become more rules so that the more upper class people can say ‘yes, but you’re doing it wrong,'” Steele told CNN.
White was tied to summer vacations — a privilege only few could afford. Labor Day represented the “reentry” into city life and the retirement of white summer clothes after a summer of leisure for the upper classes, Steele says.
But the arbitrary rule all but disappeared during the 1970s, Steele says. The 1960s “Youthquake” allowed young people to challenge old stylistic norms, including the Labor Day rule.
“It was part of a much wider anti-fashion movement,” said Steele