In some places, May Day is a seasonal holiday that celebrates the changing of seasons and coming of spring and summer. However, the day turned into a deeply political one when trade unions in the late 19th century began choosing annual days to honor the working class. Join us on May 1st to honor May Day by learning more about the rich history of May Day and how it is celebrated across the world today.
May Day - History
Large May Day protests reignite in the United States
May Day protests and marches were held in countries across the world, including in many cities in the United States.
May 1, 1891
May Day is formally recognized
A meeting in Paris held by the second congress of the Second International formally recognized May Day as an annual event.
May 1, 1886
The 8-hour workday goes into effect
The Federation of Organized Trades and Labour Unions of the United States and Canada decided that May 1, 1886 would mark the beginning of the 8-hour workday.
How to Observe May Day
1. Participate in a local demonstration
If there are no local demonstrations going on near you, make a plan to march for something you believe in. Let your voice be heard and be the change you want to see in your community.
2. Learn more about the history of workers' rights
Many working class people have suffered, and still suffer today, from poor working conditions, long hours, and low pay. Take May Day as an opportunity to learn more about the history of workers rights and appreciate the improved conditions that have resulted from the movement.
3. Have a barbecue with friends and family
Take the opportunity to spend time with friends and family over on May Day. Invite them for a bbq and enjoy a day of relaxation together.
4 Celebrities Who Participate In Demonstrations
1. George Clooney
Clooney has participated in demonstrations and protests against the humanitarian crisis in Darfur and Sudan.
2. Shailene Woodley
Woodley protested the Dakota Access Pipeline on Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and ended up being arrested for her efforts.
3. Cynthia Nixon
The Sex and The City star has participated heavily in demonstrations demanding better funding for public schools.
4. Danny Glover
Glover was arrested in 2010 for protesting a food service company that was reportedly making employees participate in unsafe working conditions.
Why May Day is Important
A. It celebrates steps forward in working conditions
May Day was chosen to be on May 1 to commemorate the Haymarket Affair in Chicago which established the legal 8-hour workday. However, the day celebrates many other steps forward in workers' rights as well.
B. May Day provides a day of rest and reflection
People work hard every day to put food on the table and it can often feel exhausting. May Day provides a day of rest for people to spend time with friends and family and take a much needed break.
C. It highlights current workers' rights issues
May Day is often a time for marches and protests. It provides a time for people to peacefully express concerns about issues that affect them in their working environments everyday.