May Day. Photo: Parade
May Day. Photo: Parade

History of May Day

In the 19th century, when Industrialisation was at its peak, labors worked relentlessly to meet the demands of the public. At that time, the working hours were as long as 10-16 hours a day. And the working conditions were not safe for the laborers. Due to which a number of workers faced difficulties and some even died because of the unsafe working conditions and long working hours. To stop this and provide justice to the labor class, several movements took place in the late 19th century.

‘The eight-hour day movement was one such movement. This movement was initiated to set a specific time for work. Started in Britain in the early 19th century, the movement quickly gained popularity in other countries as well. The United States saw the first protest by the carpenters of Philadelphia who went on a strike demanding a ten-hour day.

This demand became widespread in the 1830s. And in the year 1864, the eight-hour day quickly became a major demand of the Chicago labor movement. Following the previous attempts to bring the eight-hour day into effect, on 1st May 1886, a general strike took place in Chicago where thousands of people came together to support the movement. In the following days, more people joined the movement.

On May 4th, when the police tried to disperse the crowd, it resulted in violence. A lot of people were injured and many people died. In 1889, a meeting was held in Paris by the Second International, an organization of socialist and labor parties, that called for demonstrations worldwide to remember the Chicago protests. In the year 1891, May Day was officially recognized by the International Second Congress to be celebrated as an annual day, according to parenting firstcry.

May Day Significance

Mayday first appeared in the English language in 1923 and was most often used by boats and aircraft. Credited with coining the term, Frederick Stanley Mackford, a Senior Radio Officer at Croydon Airport in London, was tasked with creating an easily understood distress signal.

At the time, the Croydon Airport most often communicated with the French Airport, Le Bourget. Stanley landed on Mayday, the phonetic equivalent to m’aider “help me” or venez m’aider “come help me” in French. The United States adopted Mayday as the official radiotelegraph distress signal in 1927. Always hailed three times, Mayday is acknowledged globally, as reported by blog.dockwa.

Traditions During May Day

* During the Medieval era, maypole dance was popularized in parts of Europe. Unmarried young women used to walk around the decorated pole while holding colored ribbons. In the 1600s, the Catholic Church banned such practice due to sexual connotations.

* In countries like Germany, Sweden, and the Czech Republic, people celebrate the eve before May Day as Walpurgis Night in honor of Saint Walpurga, an English missionary.

* Crowning a May Queen was also popular during this day. Women used leaves and flowers for hair garlands.

* In the late 20th century, giving of May baskets filled with sweets and flowers started to fade. Traditionally, these baskets would be left at someone’s doorstep.

* In 1928, Hawaii embraced May Day as Lei Day to celebrate their own culture.

* On this day, farmers plant corn, turnips, and cucumbers. Moreover, people in villages do theatrical battles between summer and winter.

* Today, May Day is one of the most recognized bank holidays in Europe. Maypole dancing is a choreographed dance and participated by children.

World Labour Day Quotes

Photo: Culture Trip
Photo: Culture Trip

Given below are some quotes on Labour Day that you should read. You can also read out these quotes to your children and make them understand that there is no shortcut to success. One must work hard if he wants to get ahead in life.

* “Before the reward, there must be labour. You plant before you harvest. You sow in tears before you reap joy.” ― Ralph Ransom

* “A man is not idle because he is absorbed in thought. There is a visible labour and there is an invisible labour.” ― Victor Hugo

* “It is only through labour and painful effort, by grim energy and resolute courage, that we move on to better things.” ― Theodore Roosevelt

* “No work is insignificant. All labour that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.” ― Martin Luther King, Jr

* “Sometimes it’s important to work for that pot of gold. But other times it’s essential to take time off and to make sure that your most important decision in the day simply consists of choosing which colour to slide down on the rainbow.” ― Douglas Pagels

* “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

* “A hundred times every day, I remind myself that my inner and outer life depend on the labours of other men, living and dead and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving.” ― Albert Einstein

* “I’ve learned from experience that if you work harder at it and apply more energy and time to it, and more consistency, you get a better result. It comes from the work.” ― Louis C.K

* “Without ambition one starts nothing. Without work, one finishes nothing. The prize will not be sent to you. You have to win it.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

* International Labour Day is a significant day for the working class across the world. It has continued to be a symbol of strength and unity of labour forces that drive our economy.

May Day in India

Here are some facts related to May Day in India.

* May Day is known as Antarrashtriya Shramik Diwas in India and is observed on 1 May every year. It was first celebrated in Chennai in the year 1923.

* Malayapuram Singaravelu Chettiar, the prominent communist leader of Labour Kisan Party of Hindustan, organised the celebration.

* The celebration took place at two places, one at a beach opposite to Madras High court and the other at the Triplicane beach. In the meetings at these two places, he explained the significance of his party and the labour movement in general.

* He also declared that Labour Day or Majdoor Divas will be a holiday.

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