Labor Day, in its origins a 19th century celebration of the dignity of work, swiftly evolved into today’s pleasant pause at the end of summer before the coming of new, chillier seasons and life indoors.
Arguably a response (in the United States, Canada, and an assortment of other countries) to the widespread socialistic celebration of Mayday, which coincides with the age-old rituals of spring, Labor Day sets off the New World, or at least North America, from the traditions of the Old.
In the era of bitter and often violent conflict between labor and capital, Republican and Democratic parties competed, especially at the local level, for workingmen’s votes.
President Cleveland himself chose the September date in order to set the American holiday off from European Mayday.
An AFL resolution of 1909 declared the first Sunday to be the proper Labor Day, perhaps because Sunday holidays had long been popular for workers enjoying beer in picnic areas outside cities where Sunday sales were banned.