International Workers’ Day, often referred to as Labor Day or May Day, is a day to celebrate and support decent work, fair pay, and better working conditions. This day is celebrated on different days in different states (a national holiday in over 80 countries worldwide), although it is usually celebrated on May 1.
Millions of people have gained essential rights and protections thanks to the longstanding efforts of workers. For example, minimum wages have been established, working hours have been limited, and workers are entitled to paid vacation and sick days.
A brief history of the International Labor Day
The history of International Workers’ Day dates back to the 1800s when workers demanded a shorter workday and recognition of the importance of the working class. In October 1884, the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions in both the United States of America and Canada formulated labor laws to combat the exploitation of the working class. One of the provisions, still in effect, stated that beginning May 1, 1886, a workday could not exceed eight hours. The eight-hour day became law in 1892 for public sector workers. Since then, labor movements worldwide have fought for and enforced this right, and May 1 is celebrated annually as International Workers’ Day or Labor Day.
How is Labor Day celebrated nowadays
Labor Day is a day when working people can take a break from their usual work. It is an opportunity to stand up for workers’ rights, show solidarity with other working people and celebrate the achievements of workers around the world.
Below are some examples of how people celebrate this day in Europe:
On May 1, numerous celebrations occur across Germany, featuring everything from pole dancing to scaring away evil spirits. The official reason for closing banks, post offices, and other businesses on this day is to commemorate workers’ rights.
This day is a national holiday in France, so schools and most stores are closed.
Many people give their loved ones bouquets of lily of the valley or dog roses. This tradition is widespread in the Île-de-France region around Paris. Families with children in rural areas get up early to gather flowers in the woods.
Unions and other organizations hold parades and protests to advocate for workers’ rights. People can also use these gatherings to stand up for human rights, protest racism, or draw attention to current social problems.
Some public sector workers are off on this day, the stock exchange is closed, and there are some marginal socialist gatherings.
Because of the Dutch model of consensus politics (the polder model), this day is usually not like in other countries.
People will spend the day relaxing with family and friends. Some will participate in a union or workers’ parade to celebrate progress on workers’ rights.
In addition to Labor Day celebrations, May 1 is also an important date in Hungary as it marks the anniversary of the country’s accession to the European Union in 2004.
1st of may all over the world
Los Angeles, California
In Los Angeles, an annual march demanding rights for immigrants, women, and other marginalized workers is held downtown, Los Angeles. The May Day Coalition of Los Angeles, which organizes these annual demonstrations, is planning this year’s march centered around the theme “The Fight Continues/La Lucha Sigue.” A car caravan is also joining the movement, as organizers and participants advocate for undocumented immigrants and union protection laws.
In Ghana, International Workers’ Day was first celebrated in 1965, shortly after the country gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1957. The special day for workers is celebrated each year with a nationwide parade and festive events. Each year it has a different theme, such as “Labor and Nation Building: Fifty Years and Beyond” or “Sustainable Pensions for All; the Role of the Social Partners,” etc.
In Mexico, workers and students usually have this day off because it is a public holiday. Usually, people celebrate with a day of rest and leisure, but in Mexico City, a parade is part of the celebration for workers and the commitment to workers’ rights.
In Cuba, people celebrate this holiday with parades. During the parades, people display signs and flags identifying their work areas and labor leaders.