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Labor Day, also known as May Day or International Worker’s Day is most commonly associated as a commemoration of the achievements of the labor movement in the United States of America occurred on 1 May 1886.
This resulted in the general strike and the popular Haymarket Riot of 1886 in Chicago, but eventually also in the official sanction of the eight-hour workday.
1 May is celebrated in most countries around the world as Labour Day. In the UK the bank holiday is not fixed on May 1st, instead, it is observed on the first Monday of May. During Roman times, 1 May was seen as a key period to celebrate fertility and the arrival of spring.
There were large military parades during the Soviet area in most countries controlled by Russia in Europe on the first of May.
The Labour Day holiday received the official endorsement of the Soviet Union in the 20th century. In most Communist states in Europe, the day is celebrated as the Day of the International Solidarity of Workers and often consisted of large military parades with the latest weaponry being exhibited.
1 May was also a pagan holiday in many parts of Europe, Its roots as a holiday stretch back to the Gaelic Beltane. It was considered the last day of winter when the beginning of summer was celebrated.
Labor Day customs in Europe
- In England, the May Day celebrations include crowning a May Queen and dancing around a Maypole; festivities which made it the popular seasonal celebration in medieval England.
- In Sweden Mayday is also a Christian celebration - the Mass of Saint Walburga or Walpurgis Night is celebrated on the evening of 30 April.
- In Germany, Labour Day was established as an official holiday in 1933 after the NSDAP rose to power. It was supposed to symbolize the newfound unity between the state and the working classes.
- In Italy, a main May Day celebration is the annual Concerto del Primo Maggio which takes place in Rome and is attended by more than half a million people.
- In Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, and Macedonia the Labour Day is often celebrated with friends and family. It is a popular day for recreation and traditional roast lamb meals at picnics.
- 1 May is not celebrated as a national holiday in the Netherlands. There is not a strong tradition in the Netherlands to celebrate 1 May.