When I was growing up, we used to make May Day baskets out of construction paper and hang them on peoples’ door knobs. Growing up in Central Washington, we often had lilacs blooming, so we’d put those in our May Day baskets along with tulips, irises, and other flowers from my mom’s gardens.
I also remember doing a May pole once.
While May Day is a celebration of the season of spring in the United States, in many countries it’s a public holiday celebrating unity, togetherness, and rebirth. It also serves as an occasion for demonstrations and rallies in support of workers in many countries throughout the world. It’s an official holiday in 66 countries and unofficially celebrated in more countries.
In the 19th century, May Day also became known as International Workers’ Day, a day to celebrate and demonstrate for labor rights.
In 1886, International Workers’ Day was established. In May 1886, a national strike was organized in the United States to promote an eight-hour work day. A protest in Chicago’s Haymarket Square turned violent and to pay tribute to those involved, the International Socialist Conference made May 1 also known as International Workers’ Day.
In 1894, Labor Day became the national holiday in the United States when workers are recognized and celebrated.
Today in the United States demonstrations occurred in Seattle, Portland, Oakland, San Francisco, Washington, D. C., Chicago, Boston, and other large cities.
Worldwide, millions demonstrated, despite the pandemic.
In Paris and other cities in France, workers demanded more labor protections during the pandemic that seen the economy plummet. Demonstrations also were held in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom, Austria, Bosnia, South Korea, Taiwan, and Nigeria.
In Turkey and the Philippines, police stopped May Day protests, arresting hundreds who violated pandemic lockdowns.
In Indonesia, thousands demonstrated in opposition to a new jobs law.
In Brazil, thousands of demonstrators back President Bolsonaro’s anti-lockdown policies at several rallies across the country.
Russia, which had had massive May Day spectacles in the past, saw just a few May Day activities due to the pandemic.
So, happy May Day, whether you’re celebrating spring or marching for workers’ rights.