Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer. And Labor Day? Well, it's when most of us put away the shorts and get ready to usher in autumn.
But before brewing up a pumpkin spice latte, you might want to take a few moments to enjoy the last three-day weekend of summer with a day at the beach or backyard barbecue with the family.
After all, it's what Lyndon B. Johnson intended when he signed the Uniform Holiday Bill into law back in 1968, ensuring the holiday would always land on a Monday; one of many Labor Day facts you probably didn't know.
There's actually a lot about Labor Day you might not be aware of, like why we commemorate the day to begin with and who officially declared the first Monday in September a federal holiday. Hint: it's a former president.
Along with some interesting history, there are some other fun trivia facts, like which celebrities have Labor Day birthdays, what the top jobs of 2023 are and if wearing white after Labor Day is really the etiquette faux pas everyone thinks it is.
Whatever you want to know about the annual holiday, you'll find it right here. So read on, but don't work too hard. It's Labor Day, after all, so taking a well-deserved break is what it's all about.
Can you wear white after Labor Day?
This supposed-remnant of high society has long since gone by the wayside. During a segment on the 3rd Hour of TODAY, lifestyle expert Kathy Buccio explained that when it comes wearing white after Labor Day, there are no rules.
“You can wear all the white in the world that you want,” Buccio said on the show.
But how did this outdated fashion commandment become a thing to begin with?
According to Emily Post, those who could afford to vacation during the hot summer months left their “city clothes” behind in favor of “light, whiter, summer outfits.” Once autumn arrived, those leisure clothes were put away and “more formal city clothes” were once again worn.
Hollywood stylist and Dhstyle Inc. CEO, Dana Asher-Levine, tells Shop TODAY that the old-fashioned sentiment might likely have arisen, in part, from simple logistics.
“Many years ago, shopping was very seasonal. You bought clothes for fall, holidays and spring and summer,” Asher-Levine says. “White was never available in the winter months. Now with fast fashion, collections changing monthly, white is a staple color year-round.”
These celebrities celebrate Labor Day birthdays
There are plenty of celebrities who celebrate September birthdays that, depending on the year, occasionally land on Labor Day. They include:
- Beyoncé (Sept. 4, 1981)
- Keanu Reeves (Sept. 2, 1964)
- Salma Hayek (Sept. 2, 1966)
- Charlie Sheen (Sept. 3, 1965)
- Mark Harmon (Sept. 2, 1951)
- Michael Keaton (Sept. 5, 1951)
- Evan Rachel Wood (Sept. 7, 1987)
Buddy Holly, the popular singer-songwriter from the '50s who recorded hits like "That'll Be the Day" and "Peggy Sue" was born on the holiday itself, coming into the world on Monday, Sept. 7, 1936.
Labor Day is a big travel weekend
Many Americans use the long holiday weekend as an opportunity to squeeze in one last getaway before summer's end. According to a survey by The Vacationer, more than half of adults planned to travel over Labor Day in 2022.
In a separate survey, The Vacationer estimates that nearly 85% of all Americans (or 219 million people) plan to travel this summer, right through the three-day weekend.
Put them together and what do you get? A high likelihood that Labor Day 2023 will equally as busy – if not busier – than last year.
Better make those reservations early!
The most popular U.S. cities to visit
If you're among those hitting the road or flying the friendly skies on Labor Day this year, you might be interested to know where everyone else is headed. In a 2023 survey, Travel and Leisure asked readers to weigh in on their favorite U.S. cities and based on sights, culture, food, friendliness, shopping and value, these are the top five:
- Charleston, South Carolina
- Sante Fe, New Mexico
- New Orleans, Louisiana
- Savannah, Georgia
- Chicago, Illinois
The top jobs in 2023
Since Labor Day is about recognizing hard work, you might be curious which jobs are considered among the best for U.S. employees. Using pay, talent, the ability to advance, stress, work-life balance and other criteria, U.S. News and World Report cites the following as the top 10 jobs of 2023:
- Software developer
- Nurse Practitioner
- Medical and health services manager
- Physician assistant
- Information security analyst
- Physical therapist
- Financial manager
- IT manager
- Web developer
Labor Day was celebrated before there was a Labor Department
The U.S. Department of Labor was founded on March 4, 1913. What’s interesting about that is that Labor Day, itself, became a federal holiday back in 1894. And the very first celebration of the holiday occurred in 1882, a full 30 years before the government agency was founded.
Other countries celebrate International Workers' Day instead of Labor Day
While Labor Day is primarily a U.S. holiday (although Canada celebrates too), many other countries recognize their laborers on what's known as International Workers' Day, also referred to as May Day or Labour Day.
According to the Department of Labor, the international version of Labor Day has roots right here in America and is a nod to a conflict that occurred in Chicago more than a century ago. Advocating for eight-hour workdays, 300,000 workers walked out on the job on May 1, 1886. Hence, the name "May Day" and the date it's observed annually, which is May 1.
The walkout led to a violent clash between protesters and police, resulting in the deaths of both police officers and protesters in what's since been dubbed "The Haymarket Affair."
The event serves as inspiration for fair working conditions around the world and led to the founding of International Workers Day, which is commemorated by much of Europe, Mexico, Cuba and Ghana among other nations.
Labor Day began with a parade
It’s widely believed that on September 5, 1882, union leaders marched in what is now considered the very first Labor Day parade. More than 10,000 New York City workers from a wide variety of industries, such as clothing makers and railroad workers (including children), took to the streets to raise awareness over unsafe working conditions.
Post-parade activities haven't changed much
After marching just under five miles from New York City’s City Hall to 42nd Street, the workers, who took unpaid leave to be at the event, met up with their families for various activities like enjoying picnics and fireworks.
Canada celebrated "Labour Day" before us
“Labour Day," as it’s spelled by our neighbors to the north, was first celebrated in Canada in 1894 — on the first Monday of September, just like us.
Although it didn't become official until 1894, the holiday started percolating decades before that through a series of demonstrations. According to CBC News, on March 25, 1872, the Toronto Typographical Union went on strike in favor of a shorter workweek.
Many protesters were jailed, but later that year, Parliament legalized unions.
The founder of Labor Day is widely contested
No one is completely sure who actually started Labor Day here in the U.S., but it’s between two people and their last names are incredibly similar. While some records show that Peter J. McGuire, co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, got it going, others believe that Matthew Maguire, a secretary of the Central Labor Union, first sparked the concept.
Oregon was the first state to observe Labor Day
Before becoming an official holiday nationwide, Labor Day was adopted state by state. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Oregon was the first one to make it a statewide holiday, a full seven years before it was passed by Congress.
President Grover Cleveland made it a federal holiday
On June 28, 1894, President Grover Cleveland made Labor Day official by signing it into law, designating the first Monday in September to always be Labor Day. The day honors the American labor force and the upholding of laws that make work conditions healthier and safer.
There’s still a New York City Labor Day parade today
To this day, the New York City Central Labor Council still hosts a Labor Day parade and march, which is held just north of the location of the original 1882 march. This year, the parade will be held on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023.
Labor Day is observed on a Monday for a reason
While the very first Labor Day in 1882 took place on a Tuesday, it eventually shifted to Monday after the holiday was adopted by the states.
Labor Day is also observed on a Monday so that employees can enjoy a three-day weekend. Other federal holidays that fall on the first day of the week include Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Presidents Day, Juneteenth, Indigenous Peoples' Day and Memorial Day.
Those three-day weekends will always remain intact thanks to the Uniform Holiday Bill signed by Lyndon B. Johnson back in 1968, with the former president declaring it would help Americans enjoy more time with family and provide an opportunity to travel.
The average hourly earnings for employees
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average hourly pay for U.S. employees is $33.58 as of June 2023.