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THE WEEK AHEAD

PARIS : A Labor of Love

April 27, 1993

In practically every country in the world outside of the United States and Canada, Saturday will be celebrated as Labor Day. The tradition dates to the 1889 congress of the Second Socialist International held here in the French capital, when sponsors urged workers to lay down their tools on the first day May.

The holiday later took on special significance in Communist countries, where it was marked by giant military parades and tributes to the working class. And it is still honored in more than 130 countries, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.

The American tradition of celebrating Labor Day in September predates the European tradition. In 1887, Oregon became the first state to officially recognize Labor Day on the first Monday of September. Congress made it a national holiday in 1894.

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