Labor Day

The Labor Day (outside the U.S. Labour Day ) is the day of work, as he is known and celebrated in English-speaking countries around the world. He is a national holiday in Germany as in most countries and is celebrated as a day of remembrance of the labor movement.


The roots and the idea of ​​Labor Day to the year in 1882 in the United States of America and have their origins in the eight hour day movement of the previous decades. On the basis of this movement to organize the "Festival Monster Lab " at which every worker should have the opportunity to participate was, inter alia, in May 1882 in the Central Labor Union, a lodge of the Knights of Labor, the idea of ​​a. In the history of America and the emergence of authorship of Labor Day is still described quite differently (see note below). It's a fact that the Central Labor Union, a proposal to carry out a demonstration and celebration day for workers took over, a committee for organizing and conducting founded in June, so 3 months in advance, 20,000 invitation cards sent and the demonstration followed by picnic at 5. September 1882 in New York City, from now on known as Labor Day, led by. The number of participants to the march participants varies depending on the information between at least 10,000 to 30,000.

In the subsequent carnival -like picnic in Elm Park is said to have been nearly 50,000 people who could be a powerful demonstration of the day. The tradition to combine political speeches, demonstrations and celebrations on Labor Day, took here on September 5, 1882 originated.

Whoever was first came up with the idea to plan and conduct a memorial, demonstration and public holidays for workers - not later than that day was the Labor Day all the rage, known and called for enforcement. The idea took hold and was implemented in 1889 in about 400 cities in the country.

However, this memorable day was not only the work of a few individual people, it was the work of thousands of workers and trade unionists around the world who have created the base and the preparations for the day's work by the eight-hour day movement and its demonstrations. The continuity in the struggle for the eight hour day, from the programmatic idea and development by the Welsh entrepreneur and social reformer Robert Owen 1830-1834, to the use of the labor movement over five decades, managed the awareness among the workers and gave the power to to make the working holiday an integral part in society.

1889 was adopted at the International Socialist Congress in Paris to leave the labor convention taking place in the entire world on May 1. So then May 1st was declared in most countries of the world, but especially in the communist states for Labor Day.

Labour Day ( chart)

Labour Day (country specific)

Great Britain

Although the labor movement had its origins in the days of the Industrial Revolution in England and Karl Marx wrote to Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto in London, a Labour Day appears on the American or the German model still in the political public not to be assertive.

The Labor Day is celebrated as May Day on May 1st in the UK and, inter alia, in London celebrated with marches since the mid- 1880s. Largely ignored by the government and the media, continuously tried the trade union movement since the 1970s to enforce the 1 May for employees as a public holiday. In order to take the pressure out of the movement, the government announced in 1978 with another Bank Holiday ( the first Monday in May in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and on the last Monday in May in Scotland) as a national holiday after. This holiday has but essentially nothing in common with the Labour Day.

On May 1, the Beltane festival is also celebrated in the UK and Ireland.


Ireland has until now also no statutory holiday for Labor Day. The Irish government introduced an additional holiday on the first Monday in May with the regulation for Holidays ( Employees ) Act, 1973 in 1993. As in Britain should the additional holiday of the movement, on May 1, set up a working holiday, take the force.

United States of America

The Labor Day in the U.S., which is celebrated on the first Monday in September, is a national holiday since 1894 and is attributed to the eight-hour day campaigns of the American labor movement. The Knights of Labor, founded in 1869, which rose from 1879 Terence Vincent Powderly to the then largest national trade union organization, took over in 1884, the campaign and word leadership in the decades-long struggle for the introduction of the eight -hour day. Based on this long-term movement in 1882, the first impressive Labor Day demonstration of workers movement arose ( see above).

For most Americans and Canadians of Labor Day today means also the end of summer and the travel season. Beaches and excursions are once again crowded with people who want to enjoy the last long summer weekend.


In Canada, the tradition of Labor Day is associated with the April 15, 1872, where some 10,000 workers in Toronto " Workingman's demonstration " for the abolition of a law demonstrated with the title, which criminalized the unions as conspiratorial associations.

On July 23, 1894, the Labour Day has been charged by the Canadian government by law a national holiday and as set out in the U.S. on the first Monday in September.


The origins of Labour Day will gladly returned to Australia on the first successful demonstrations to the eight-hour day in 1855 in Sydney and 1856 in Melbourne. The first Labour Day demonstration, which like Australia claims for himself, took place on 16 March 1861 in Brisbane, Queensland with a few handful of construction workers who had previously successfully established the eight-hour day, instead. 1889 failed attempt to lay the March to May 1 proposed by the International Socialist Congress in Paris to Labour Day. 1893, including the Labour Day was laid with the Achtstundentagdemonstration together on the first Monday in May. The individual states of Australia could not agree among themselves, so that today the Labour Day is celebrated on different days right in Australia.

New Zealand

In New Zealand in 1840 by Samuel Duncan Parnell ( 1810-1890 ) initiated an eight-hour day movement, which 50 years later in 1890 led to Jubiläumsmarsch and the first legally safe Labour Day. A year earlier, in 1899 was created with the Labour Day Act of 1899, the legal basis for this. But the first demonstrations under the title Labour Day were already nine years previously held in the larger cities of the whole country in October and November 1889.


To the question of who invented the Labour Day and thus can assign the historical merit, there is still, depending on their interests, different points of view. Confusing the situation even by the fact that the two actors, where the credit is allocated by the respective sides, identify with McGuire and Maguire a name similarity.

Peter J. McGuire (1852-1906) is known today as yet of the American Federation of Labor stubbornly as " Father" and "inventor" of Labor Day. The Library of Congress represents this view still continue uncritically, whereas now quite a few sources, such as, inter alia, the U.S. Department of Labor reflect, at least the contradiction in the historical accounts.

Peter J. McGuire must have, newer sources say, only have been at the first Labor Day on September 5, 1882 speakers and 1897 authorship have publicly claims for himself, while Matthew Maguire and as secretary of the Central Labor Union of New York the Author said to have been the organizer of the first Labor Day.

Also go the mappings, who worked for which union for this event, quite confused. The fact probably is that the Central Labor Union organized the Labor Day. But already in the different sources, the Central Labor Union will once assigned to the Knights of Labor and other times of the American Federation of Labor. Naturally, the confusion is the fact when you consider the competition between the Knights of Labor and the American Federation of Labor in those years and believes that the Central Labor Union of New York originally a lodge of Knights of Labor was and after its collapse came up with some local divisions under the umbrella of the American Federation of Labor.