Why Is It Called Labor Day?
Credit: Dreamstime

The first Labor Day took place in New York City on Sept. 5, 1882, with picnics organized by the city's Central Labor Union. It became a legal holiday by an 1894 act of Congress. Celebrating work by not doing any — it was an idea that seemed destined for greatness.

But tell that to today's workforce, especially those manning the gas stations, restaurants and retail shops on this day.

Americans are now taking fewer and fewer days off every year, shaving time from the paltry two weeks of vacation given on average. We now put in more hours at work than any other industrialized nation in the world, but don't have much to show for it except stress, polls show.

Europeans — who take full advantage of their four to six weeks of yearly holiday — are actually more efficient workers, experts say. For many Americans, it seems, Labor Day no longer means what it used to.

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