|May Day Dates|
May Day or Labor Day is the day when workers got the relaxation of just 8 working hours in a day. This victory came about towards the mid-late of the 19th century. The day is now celebrated as an annual holiday in a number of countries around the world. The 8-hour concept was based on the notion that each person should have 8 hours of recreation, 8 hours of rest and 8 hours of labor. Now, it is celebrated internationally on May 1 every year. It is also called International Workers’ Day in a number of countries.
Earlier, in the 19th century, laborers used to work 10-12 hours in a day and that too for 6 days in a week. However, a strong moment was gaining the momentum around 1850. The frustration among the workers took the shape of strikes, riots and much more to set the limit to 8 hours on a working day.
Workers in New Zealand were the first in the world to claim 8-hour working day in 1840. They celebrated their first labor day on 28 October 1890.
On April 21, 1856, in Australia, the stonemasons workers took to the streets to protest against the system. They walked to the Parliament House and put forward their demand. The government finally succumbed to the pressure and gave a nod to the demand of 8 hours in a day and thus 48 hours of working in a week with no loss of pay. Celebrations were touching the sky in May 1856 when several building workers took part in the parade to celebrate this outstanding win.
The US caught up a little late. In 1884, American Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions pressed the demand for 8-hours in a working day and urged it to come into effect from May 1, 1886. Riots and strikes took place but ultimately the official sanction of just eight hours working was passed.
However, this was not the end of all the problems as women were still paid less as compared to men and working conditions were harsh. Nonetheless, this day was significant in the history of the labor class as they were victorious in getting the 8-hour working duration. Eight hours are now considered the fairest working hours in the world.
In many parts of the world, May 1 is now the official labors day. However, in some parts of the world, it is celebrated on the first Monday of May. And curiously, in the USA, Labor Day is celebrated on September's first Monday.
The day is celebrated differently around the world, but regardless of the cultural differences, all the celebrations have the same sentiment at its root – a good work-life balance.
England celebrates it with zany enthusiasm. Dancing around a Maypole, Morris dancing, crowning a May Queen are some of the popular activities to celebrate the day.
The day is observed as a holiday in Goa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Tripura, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Assam, Manipur, and Bihar. It is also referred to as Antarrashtriya Shramik Diwas.
In Italy, it is an annual celebration - Concerto del Primo Maggio. Each year it takes place in Rome and attended by about half a million people.
In Sweden, Labor Day is more than just an official off day. It is also a Christian celebration. The Mass of Saint Walburga or Walpurgis Night is enthusiastically celebrated on the evening of April 30th.
In Switzerland, the day is given an off in the following cantons: Basel-Landschaft, Jura, Solothurn, Schaffhausen, Ticino, Zurich, Fribourg, Ausserrhoden, Thurgau, Basel-Stadt, Appenzell, and Neuchâtel.
Last Updated: 30th April, 2018