Labor Day in the United States falls on the first Monday each September to recognize the contributions of American workers to the economy. In 2018, the Labor Day weekend is 1-3 September.
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The first U.S. Labor Day celebrations took place in New York City in 1882 at the behest of local labor unions. The unions wanted to put the fruits of their industries on public display. In 1887, Oregon instituted a state-level Labor Day holiday. 29 other states followed suit before it finally became a federal holiday in 1894.
The original Labor Day celebrations consisted of street parades displaying the contributions of laborers in various industries. These parades were followed by local festivals and other amusements. The holiday was also a time for giving speeches on labor-related topics, which is still occasionally done today.
Another reason Labor Day was instituted was to provide a public holiday in the long, “holiday-free” span between the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving. This gap-filler strategy, combined with its “strategic position” at the end of the summer season, has made it a much-appreciated break for many U.S. workers.
Today, the Labor Day weekend is not a big time for “official events,” although there are still a few parades and some fireworks displays on Labor Day Weekend. Mostly, it is the beginning of the football season, a time for picnics and barbecues, and a time to go on vacation to the beach, national parks, or elsewhere.