Celebrating the Origins of Labor Day

If you’re excited for Labor Day, raise your hand!

Okay, along with most Americans we’ll celebrate the day off but we figure as media professionals we should take a moment to dive into the back story.

According to the Department of Labor, the very first Labor Day was celebrated in NYC in 1882 in accordance with plans made by the Central Labor Union. Known as a “workingman’s holiday” (ahem, that should be working people, thank you very much), it spread with growth of labor organizations and the following year it was feted in other locations, too.

As for the back story itself, it’s a bit unclear. As per the government site, some records point to Peter J. McGuire, the general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a cofounder of the American Federation of Labor. Apparently he was the first person to suggest a day to honor people who “from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.”

Others believe that Matthew Maguire, a machinist, founded the holiday instead. In 1882 he allegedly proposed the holiday during his tenure as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York.

Regardless of McGuire or Maguire, the labor union created the Labor Day proposal and the rest is history.