With the coming holiday weekend, we need to stretch outside
of Sherburne County History to explore the origins of Labor Day. Beginning in the late 1800s and continuing to
the declaration of a national holiday, the day to celebrate workers remains
Quarry workers in west Sherburne County
The commemoration of labor and working often associated with May 1, May Day, also known as International Workers’ Day. In the United States, in the late 1880s, May Day became more closely associated with radical philosophies often associated with socialism, anarchy, and communism. A variety of more conservative labor unions and activists started promoting the first weekend in September as an alternative; a new Labor Day.
The Haymarket Massacre, on 4 May 1886, further solidified May Day as a celebration of radicalism. In 1887, Oregon became the first state to recognize the Labor Day holiday in September. Within 7 years, thirty states commemorated Labor Day. Although the federal government recognized Labor Day as a holiday for federal employees, it wasn’t until the 1930s the holiday was recognized as an official holiday.
In Minnesota, a number of significant activities revolve around the September holiday. Many schools in Minnesota open after Labor Day. Some suggest this scheduling allows young children to fully participate in the state fair, which closes on Labor Day. In addition, fall sports activities schedule their opening based on the Labor Day holiday.
Informally marking the end of summer, Labor Day emerges out of the more radical history of May Day to play a significant role in yearly life cycles in the United States. It provides an exclamation point to end summertime activities and signals to Americans now is the time to develop plans for the fall and winter activities.