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May the first, right? Not if you're American or Canadian.

The modern Labor Day tradition developed in Canada in 1872, when parades were held in support of a nine-hour workday/forty-five hour work week and a strike by the printers' union. Originally, Labour Day (the Canadian spelling) did not have a set date -- the 1872 parades were held in April, for example. In 1882, the Canadian tradition was imported to America by labor leader Peter J. McGuire, who started the tradition of holding it at the start of September. In 1894, both the US and Canada passed legislation making Labor Day a national holiday, held on the first Monday of September. In the US, the day was chosen at least in part due to fear that honoring the labor movement on May 1 would embolden radical communist and anarchist groups, especially after the 1886 Haymarket riot.

Today, Labor Day is viewed as the symbolic end of summer (no, this is not meant as a Take That to the labor movement). It used to be the last day before the kids have to go back to school, but most districts have long since extended the year by a few weeks. It is also, for whatever reason, culturally considered by some to be end of when it is acceptable to wear white shoes (or white things in general). Almost everybody gets off from work on this day. The NFL plays its first game of the season on the Thursday following Labor Day, and the first college football games are played the week before. Labor Day is less of a political holiday than International Workers' Day (May 1) is in the rest of the world, with politicians only making speeches during election years[1]. Celebrations usually include barbeques, picnics, watching the game, and taking family trips.

Notes

  1. It is traditionally when election campaigns go full bore
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