Labour Day – A Quick History
Every year May 1st is observed as Labor Day or International Workers’ Day, or May Day (not to be confused…
Every year May 1st is observed as Labor Day or International Workers’ Day, or May Day (not to be confused with ‘mayday’, a distress signal used in emergencies!). It is a day to remember the contribution of the working class across the country.
History of Labour Day
Different countries have different origin stories of Labour Day.
In the 19th century, industrialists made the working-class (the social group consisting primarily of people who are employed in unskilled or semi-skilled manual or industrial work) work for 15 hours a day. The workers protested against it and wanted paid leaves and fewer working hours. On May 1, 1886, some workers in the USA, went on strike demanding an 8-hour workday. During the protest, an unidentified person dropped a bomb in which some people died while many were injured. It is also remembered as the Haymarket Affair in Chicago.
Since then, trade unions chose May 1st as a day in support of workers. Subsequently, many nations declared a holiday to workers on May 1st.
Interestingly, May Day was an ancient spring festival that originated in England. It was celebrated on the 1st of May or the 1st Monday of May to mark the first day of summer. The name gradually started referring to Labour Day rather than a spring festival. Many European countries still celebrate the spring traditions today.
How is Labour Day celebrated in different countries?
Let us see how some countries celebrate Labor Day.
USA & Canada
In the United States and Canada, Labour Day is celebrated on the 1st Monday of September. The President wanted a different date as the Haymarket affair in Chicago happened on May 1 too.
Mayday is not a national holiday in Japan, but it lies between other national holidays. Workers get paid leaves on this day.
In France, May 1st is the only holiday in which workers can take leave. There are marches that take place across France.
In Hungary, May 1st is a national holiday. They celebrate Labor Day with a bit of fresh air and funfairs.
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