Many Americans take the first Monday of each September, better known as Labor Day, for granted. Today, the holiday has devolvedinto little more than an extended weekend utilized by marketers to unveil the biggest and best year-end sales. But this was not always the case.
The History of Labor Day
The first Labor Day took place in 1882 when the Central Labor Union organized a parade of unions in New York. Workersparticipating in the event lost a day’s wage and because of this, only a handful of workers chose to march in the parade. However, by the end of the day, more than 10,000 workers had joined the march.
The Central Labor Union urged labor organizations across the country to also ban together to celebrate a “workingman’s holiday.” And by 1885, Labor Day was recognized in most industrial cities across the United States.
Labor Day is Officially Recognized as a National Holiday
In 1887, Oregon passed the first state law to recognize Labor Day as a holiday. During that year four additional states also helped form the Labor Day holiday by legislative enactment. But it was not until 1894 that Congress passed an act to make the first Monday of every September a legal, national holiday.
Labor Day Today: Commercialism and Labor Day Sales
Today, the original meaning of Labor Day seems lost. Most people use the first Monday of September (and the long weekend it creates) to take vacations, plan picnics, host an end-of-summer barbeque, and go shopping. After all, who can pass up all of those Labor Day sales, with items anywhere from 50% to 80% off?
Marketers all across the United States are utilizing the Labor Day holiday in several ways, including:
- Sales Promotions
- Labor Day Incentives Programs
- Labor Day Themed Customer Appreciation Events
Labor Day Sales Statistics
- In 2011, Yahoo reported that searches for “labor day weekend 2011” grew 1,889% and that “Labor Day sales” was one of the major search terms.
- Shopping website Shopittome.com ran an analysis of online ads for various holiday sales in 2011, finding the average Labor Day sale was 48.4 percent off, compared to between 41 and 42 percent for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
So how will you celebrate Labor Day? No matter what you do on the first Monday of September, just remember that Labor Day is a lasting reminder of how our society’s working class has evolved.
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