To the Editor:
Labor Day is celebrated in North America every first Monday in September. It first started with the Knights of Labor in 1882 under the leadership of Peter J. Maguire from Camden, N. J. Other organizations adopted the idea. By 1887, Colorado passed the first act making it an official holiday. Soon afterwards, all the states declared Labor Day a legal holiday throughout the United States. Before long, even Canada made the first Monday in September as its official Labor Day too.
Some may wonder why people in North America didn’t just adopt May 1st to celebrate International Workers Day as more than 80 nations do in Europe and elsewhere. The United States of America is a capitalistic country, whereas those countries that adopted International Workers Day are nascent communist, syndicalist and/or anarchist movements – nothing most Americans care to embrace.
How Americans celebrate Labor Day is unique from other holidays too. Yes, there are parades, speeches by prominent men and women, ending with an organizational festival for the employees and their families in their various organizations. Others who are not members, after the parade and speeches, have their private backyard barbecues with their own families, friends and neighbors.
With other holidays, all businesses are closed, but on Labor Day, most retailers not only remain open to take advantage of huge crowds, who watch the parades and shop afterwards. Many have made that weekend their biggest sales event, slashing normal prices to 50 percent or more to attract all shoppers including bargain hunters. Some businesses claim that Labor Day is their biggest sales date, perhaps second only to Christmas.
As the Fourth of July signifies the beginning of summer, Labor Day signifies the end of the carefree summer and easy outdoor living. School begins again for children and vacations for most people have ended. Mostly everyone must resume the serious business of living after Labor Day.
Isabelle C. Chang