Public Holiday: Labor Day - Dates, origin and meaning

1 May 2025

Date 2024

Wednesday, 1 of May

Date 2025

Thursday, 1 of May

Official: Labor Day
Spanish: Día del trabajo Día Internacional del Trabajo Día del trabajador
International work day

Labor Day is celebrated in most countries of the world thanks to the workers' movement, which in 1886 fought to abolish long working hours of up to 18 hours to establish the 8-hour day.

In addition to the long hours, the salaries were miserable and they suffered from semi-slavery working conditions. This gave rise to the strike on May 1, the date on which the achievements of the labor movement are now remembered and the rights of workers are recognized.

Why is Labor Day celebrated?

It is held to commemorate the events that took place in the city of Chicago in 1886 and honor the workers who persevered for decades to improve their working conditions.

It is also a date to pay homage to workers from all over the world who gradually joined the fight after the events in Chicago and raised their voices for their rights and for working conditions to change.

Labor Day History

Since the height of the Industrial Revolution, employees began to show their dissatisfaction with the high workload and organized movements to request changes in working conditions.

The 1860s saw continued efforts by workers such as Ira Steward, a dedicated mechanical worker, who collaborated with other leaders seeking to reduce the workday to eight hours. Several agreements were even signed, but even so, the employers continued to force the workers to work long hours.

In 1884, the Federation of Organized Trades and Unions announced that the working day should be 8 hours as of May 1, 1886. From then on, the social and union organizations promoted marches and sit-ins in front of the large factories to make enforce and respect this law.

On May 1, 1886, around 40,000 workers from Chicago, at the time the second most populous city in the United States, came out to march for their rights. In total, more than 300,000 workers participated across the country.

The movement continued peacefully until 2 days later when a violent confrontation with the police began, which resulted in several deaths and dozens of injuries.

On May 4, in Haymarket Square, the protests continued and one of the most significant events occurred. A dynamite bomb was thrown towards the police, resulting in a tragic confrontation that left several police officers and civilians dead.

A few years later, these events began to gain importance in other countries, which is why the celebration of Labor Day was consolidated. Most countries celebrate it on May 1, and some celebrate it in September.

¿What about Colombia?

Workers' Day in Colombia has been celebrated since 1914, when the Unión Obrera de Colombia held a call in Bogota. Initially it was called "the festival of workerism".

Commemoration of Labor Day in the world

Labor Day is celebrated in more than 60 countries around the world and May 1 is precisely the date chosen to honor and remember the fallen in Chicago.

It is a commemoration in honor of workers around the world, a day to remember what has been achieved after years of struggle to improve the working conditions of workers.

In the United States, Canada and some states of Australia, "Labor Day" is celebrated on days other than May 1. For the United States and Canada, it is celebrated on the first Monday in September. In the case of Australia, each federal state decides the date to commemorate it.

Commemoration of Labor Day in Colombia

The worker unions are in charge of organizing peaceful marches to strategic points in the cities to demand their rights.

According to the General Confederation of Labor (CGT), one of the largest labor unions, Colombia continues to fight for decent working conditions, with decent wages.

They demand the recovery of the agricultural sector, the elimination of labor outsourcing and the payment of parallel payrolls.

Currently, one of the great concerns is the high number of informal jobs.

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