Labor Day is more than just a day off from work.The first Labor Day in the United States was observed on September 5, 1882, by the Central Labor Union of New York. It became a federal holiday in 1894, when, following the deaths of a number of workers at the hands of the U.S. military and U.S. Marshals during the Pullman Strike, President Grover Cleveland put reconciliation with the labor movement as a top political priority.
Fearing further conflict, legislation making Labor Day a national holiday was rushed through Congress unanimously and signed into law a mere six days after the end of the strike. The September date originally chosen by the CLU of New York and observed by many of the nation’s trade unions for the past several years was selected rather than the more widespread International Workers’ Day because Cleveland was concerned that observance of the latter would stir up negative emotions linked to the Haymarket Affair, which it had been observed to commemorate.
All U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and the territories have made it a statutory holiday. The holiday is often regarded as a day of rest and parties. Traditionally, Labor Day is celebrated by most Americans as the symbolic end of the summer.
The form for the celebration of Labor Day was outlined in the first proposal of the holiday: A street parade to exhibit to the public “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations,” followed by a festival for the workers and their families. This became the pattern for Labor Day celebrations. Speeches by prominent men and women were introduced later, as more emphasis was placed upon the economic and civil significance of the holiday. Still later, by a resolution of the American Federation of Labor convention of 1909, the Sunday proceeding Labor Day was adopted as Labor Sunday and dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement.
New York City has the biggest Labor Day parade in the country which, has been adopted by the West Indian Culture as a day to celebrate their heritage. The day begins with a Mass said by the Bishop of Brooklyn at St. Gregory Church located at the starting point of the parade. After Mass all the church goers begin the march down Eastern Parkway followed by a myriad of floats and dancers. The parade hosts over 2 million viewers. and over 2 thousand participants.