To many people, Labor Day means a three-day weekend. Picnics, barbecues, a farewell to summer — and one last hurrah before the new school year gets underway in earnest.

But Labor Day, which always takes place on the first Monday in September, was created to honor the contributions of the nation’s working men and women and their achievements. Here’s how the U.S. Labor Department describes the holiday: “It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity and well-being of our country.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, the holiday is the creation of the labor movement, which wanted a holiday to honor workers — and highlight the need for labor reform laws.

The Central Labor Union held the first Labor Day celebration in 1882 in New York City. The AFL-CIO, which represents about 12.2 million members, says that first holiday was marked by a march to demand an eight-hour workday and other labor law reforms. About 20,000 workers made their way up Broadway carrying signs that read “Labor Creates All Wealth” and “Eight Hours for Work, Eight Hours for Rest, Eight Hours for Recreation.”

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