2013-04-30 May 1
Tomorrow is called
"May Day" and "International Workers' Day" and is a public
holiday in more than 80 countries. This day has a most interesting history with
several layers of meaning in various parts of the world.
For many places in the Northern Hemisphere, May 1 is an ancient Spring festival, and in some places it is even celebrated as the start of Summer.
But it most countries the reason for a holiday tomorrow is International Workers' Day, whose history dates back to a violent incident in Chicago on May 4, 1886 in which police bullets killed dozens of people demonstrating for an eight-hour workday, after a bomb was thrown at the police.
The eight-hour workday movement was worldwide, and an international meeting in 1904 called for May 1 to be observed in all countries as a day of demonstrating for the eight-hour workday. In the US the observance was moved away from the sensitive time of May, to avoid violence, and is now commemorated as Labor Day on the first Monday of September.
Most countries now
have the eight-hour day as part of their legal systems, but in practice many
workers do "overtime" and work more than eight hours, in order to keep
their jobs or to get higher salaries for their families.
May 1 continues to be a day when workers demonstrate for their rights and for better working conditions.
p.s. "Mayday", repeated three times, is an international emergency signal. It comes from the French venez m'aider, meaning "come help me", and has no connection with May 1