Labour Day

1st May celebrates Labour Day or International Workers' Day or May Day which is an annual holiday to celebrate the economic and social achievements of workers.

Labour Day in other Countries

For example, in America and Canada, Labor Day is celebrated the first Monday of each September. Because Labor Day creates a three-day weekend and is the last major holiday before the onset of autumn, it's generally seen as the last chance to enjoy the summer season. Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands Labour Day falls on different dates.

History

The roots of Labour Day goes back as early as 1884 when the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions in America passed a resolution stating that eight hours would be considered a legal day's work; hoping to pass it as law by May 1st two years later. By April 1886, as many as 250,000 workers were already involved. A large scale rally soon sparked off the Haymarket riot after police intervention. Chicago police fired on workers during a general strike for the eight hour workday, killing several demonstrators and resulting in the deaths of several police officers, largely from friendly fire.

The purpose of relating May Day’s origin is to remind us that Labour Day is not a government initiated event nor was it a pompous affair organised by some high level armchair critic. It is brought about by the passion and blood of those before us who recognize that workers have equal rights and should not be treated as slaves by their employers.

May Day

May Day is related to the Celtic festival of Beltane and the Germanic festival of Walpurgis Night. May Day falls exactly half a year from November 1, another cross-quarter day which is also associated with various northern European pagan and neopagan festivals such as Samhain. May Day marks the end of the winter half of the year in the Northern hemisphere, and it has traditionally been an occasion for popular and often raucous celebrations.

As Europe became Christianized the pagan holidays either lost their religious character and became popular secular celebrations, as with May Day, or they were merged with or replaced by new Christian holidays such as Christmas, Easter and All Saints' Day. In the 20th Century many neopagans began reconstructing the old traditions and celebrating May Day as a pagan religious festival again.