May Day 2011
I received some complaints about not reviewing the history of the great holiday of May Day when I wrote about it last year, so I have decided to make a effort to explain the origins this May Day.
May Day originally had nothing to do with the workers’ revolution but was rather a traditional spring holiday, in pre-Christian Europe celebrating the Roman goddess of flowers, Flora. Afterwards the development of Christianity in Europe changed the holiday to be a celebration of Mary.
May Day, or International Workers’ Day, as we know it is the commemoration of the 1886 Haymarket Massacre in Chicago, when, after an unknown person threw a dynamite bomb at police as they dispersed a public meeting, 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 due to friendly fire.
Other important events related to the modern celebration are May Day Riots of 1894, in Cleveland, Ohio and the International Socialist Conference of 1904 (in Amsterdam) called on “all Social Democratic Party organizations and trade unions of all countries to demonstrate energetically on May First for the legal establishment of the 8-hour day, for the class demands of the proletariat, and for universal peace.” The congress made it “mandatory upon the proletarian organizations of all countries to stop work on May 1, wherever it is possible without injury to the workers.”
In modern times May Day is celebrated in nearly every country of the world, a glorious tribute to the past and a shining light to the future.