What Is Labor Day and Why Do We Celebrate It?

On strike
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Labor Day is probably the most misunderstood American holiday. Most us know vaguely that Veterans Day is a day to celebrate American War Veterans, and Memorial Day is a day for honoring those who have sacrificed for us. So what is Labor Day? A day to… labor?

That doesn’t sound like a lot of fun, and since most of us get Labor Day off, it doesn’t seem like we’re supposed to celebrate the spirit of Labor Day by working really hard. In fact, it seems like we’re supposed to do the opposite.

Here are three possible meanings for Labor Day. I’ll let you decide which one you want to celebrate.

Labor Day #1

Woman in labor for labor day
Source: Romper

On Labor Day, celebrate the woman who went through labor to bring you into the world. (If you’re confused, that would be your mom.) Sure, we already have Mother’s Day. But we need a day to actually celebrate how hard pregnancy is. Announcing Labor Day.

Labor Day #2

Miners waiting for work on labor day
Source: Wikimedia Commons

The dictionary defines labor as “work, especially hard physical work.” So this Labor Day, work your pants off. (Not literally, though.) This is the one day of the year dedicated to true, pure labor. Work up a sweat doing something physically demanding, like yard work, car repairs, or some other form of physical drudgery. Sweat. Feels good, right? (JK, it sounds terrible.)

Labor Day #3

Labor day parade
Source: Wikimedia Commons

On Labor Day, we celebrate the American labor movement. This country was built on hard work, and Labor Day is the day set aside by labor and trade unions to honor that work. And how do we honor it? By taking the day off from all work. So sleep in, order takeout, and wear your pajamas all day. Or take a short vacation.

If you’re wondering (though you probably guessed), #3 is the right Labor Day. The federal holiday was first celebrated in Oregon in 1887, and since spread to the other states. Because who doesn’t love an excuse for taking the day off from work?

Sit back and chill. We’re celebrating labor by… not laboring.