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International Workers' Day

International Workers' Day
Vienna, Austria, 2013
Official name International Workers' Day
Also called May Day
Celebrations Organised street demonstrations and street marches
Date 1 May
Next time 1 May 2016 (2016-05-01)
Frequency annual
Related to May Day, Labor Day, various other Labour Days

International Workers' Day, also known as Labour Day in some places, is a celebration of labourers and the working classes that is promoted by the international labour movement, anarchists, socialists, and communists and occurs every year on May Day, 1 May, an ancient European spring holiday.[1][2] The date was chosen for International Workers' Day by the Second International to commemorate the Haymarket affair, which occurred in Chicago on 4 May 1886.[2] This day has its origins in the labour union movement, specifically the eight-hour day movement, which advocated eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation, and eight hours for rest.[3]

Being a traditional European spring celebration, May Day is a national public holiday in many countries, but in only some of those countries is it celebrated specifically as "Labour Day" or "International Workers' Day". Some countries celebrate a Labour Day on other dates significant to them, such as the United States, which celebrates Labor Day on the first Monday of September.


  • History 1
  • Africa 2
    • Algeria 2.1
    • Egypt 2.2
    • Ethiopia 2.3
    • Kenya 2.4
    • Libya 2.5
    • Morocco 2.6
    • Nigeria 2.7
    • South Africa 2.8
    • Tanzania 2.9
    • Tunisia 2.10
  • Americas 3
    • Argentina 3.1
    • Bolivia 3.2
    • Brazil 3.3
    • Canada 3.4
    • Chile 3.5
    • Colombia 3.6
    • Costa Rica 3.7
    • Cuba 3.8
    • Dominican Republic 3.9
    • Ecuador 3.10
    • El Salvador 3.11
    • Guatemala 3.12
    • Haiti 3.13
    • Mexico 3.14
    • Panama 3.15
    • Paraguay 3.16
    • Peru 3.17
    • United States 3.18
    • Uruguay 3.19
    • Venezuela 3.20
  • Asia 4
    • Bahrain 4.1
    • Bangladesh 4.2
    • Cambodia 4.3
    • China 4.4
    • Georgia 4.5
    • India 4.6
    • Indonesia 4.7
    • Iran 4.8
    • Iraq 4.9
    • Israel 4.10
    • Japan 4.11
    • Jordan 4.12
    • Lebanon 4.13
    • Macau 4.14
    • Malaysia 4.15
    • Maldives 4.16
    • Myanmar 4.17
    • Nepal 4.18
    • North Korea 4.19
    • Pakistan 4.20
    • Palestine 4.21
    • Philippines 4.22
    • Singapore 4.23
    • South Korea 4.24
    • Sri Lanka 4.25
    • Syria 4.26
    • Taiwan 4.27
    • Thailand 4.28
    • Vietnam 4.29
  • Europe 5
    • Eastern bloc under Communist governments 5.1
    • Albania 5.2
    • Austria 5.3
    • Belgium 5.4
    • Bosnia and Herzegovina 5.5
    • Bulgaria 5.6
    • Croatia 5.7
    • Czech Republic 5.8
    • Denmark 5.9
    • Finland 5.10
    • France 5.11
    • Germany 5.12
    • Greece 5.13
    • Hungary 5.14
    • Iceland 5.15
    • Ireland 5.16
    • Italy 5.17
    • Lithuania 5.18
    • Luxembourg 5.19
    • Macedonia 5.20
    • Malta 5.21
    • Netherlands 5.22
    • Norway 5.23
    • Poland 5.24
    • Portugal 5.25
    • Romania 5.26
    • Russia 5.27
    • Serbia 5.28
    • Slovakia 5.29
    • Slovenia 5.30
    • Spain 5.31
    • Sweden 5.32
    • Switzerland 5.33
    • Turkey 5.34
    • Ukraine 5.35
    • United Kingdom 5.36
  • Oceania 6
    • Australia 6.1
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


Khrushchev and Politburo members atop Lenin's Tomb, May Day, 1957
States and dependencies coloured by observance of International Workers' Day or a different variant of May Day or Labour Day:
  Labour Day falls or may fall on 1 May
  Another public holiday on 1 May
  No public holiday on 1 May, but Labour Day on a different date
  No public holiday on 1 May and no Labour Day

Beginning in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labour movements grew, a variety of days were chosen by trade unionists as a day to celebrate labour. In the United States and Canada, a September holiday, called Labor or Labour Day, was first proposed in the 1880s. In 1882, Matthew Maguire, a machinist, first proposed a Labor Day holiday while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union (CLU) of New York.[4] Others argue that it was first proposed by Peter J. McGuire of the American Federation of Labor in May 1882,[5] after witnessing the annual labour festival held in Toronto, Canada.[6] In 1887, Oregon was the first state of the United States to make it an official public holiday. By the time it became an official federal holiday in 1894, thirty U.S. states officially celebrated Labor Day.[5] Thus by 1887 in North America, Labor Day was an established, official holiday but in September,[7] not on 1 May.

1 May was chosen to be International Workers' Day in order to commemorate the 4 May 1886 Haymarket affair in Chicago. The police were trying to disperse a public assembly during a general strike for the eight-hour workday, when an unidentified person threw a bomb at the police. The police responded by firing on the workers, killing four demonstrators.[8][9]

In 1889, a meeting in [10] Across the globe, labour activists sought to make May Day an official holiday to honour labour and many countries have done so.

May Day has long been a focal point for demonstrations by various socialist, communist and anarchist groups. May Day has been an important official holiday in countries such as the People's Republic of China, North Korea, Cuba and the former Soviet Union. May Day celebrations typically feature elaborate popular and military parades in these countries .

In 1955, the Catholic Church dedicated 1 May to "Saint Joseph the Worker". Saint Joseph is for the Church the patron saint of workers and craftsmen (among others).[11]

During the Cold War, May Day became the occasion for large military parades in Red Square by the Soviet Union and attended by the top leaders of the Kremlin, especially the Politburo, atop Lenin's Tomb. It became an enduring symbol of that period.



1 May is a public labour holiday in Algeria.[12]

1 May is celebrated in Algeria as Labour Day and has been a paid bank holiday since 1962.


Egyptian Communist Party flags in Tahrir Square.

1 May is known as Labour Day and is considered a paid holiday. The Egyptian Federation for Independent Trades Unions) for the first time since the revolution of 1952.[13][14]


In Ethiopia, May Day is a public holiday and celebrated as the Labour Day.


In minimum wage on Labour Day.


On 1 May 1978, former Libyan leader Colonel Mu'ammar Al-Qaddafi addressed the nation in the capital city of Tripoli calling for administrative and also economic reforms across Libya:

We celebrate today the first of May, the International Workers' Day; but the real workers' day is the one on which all workers of the world are liberated from slavery and when they become partners instead of wage workers...
This should be the Workers' International Day of Liberation throughout the world which deserves the true celebration.

On 1 September, marking the 9th anniversary of Qaddafi's rise to leadership, masses responded to the calls made four months prior by revolting and holding mass strikes against many institutions and private owned entities effectively eliminating the private sector of the economy.

Four years later, again marking Workers' Day, Qaddafi gave a historic speech to labourers all over the world asking them to push further with reforms called for in 1978:

On this day we call on the workers of the world who are suffering from deceit, exploitation, oppression and slavery, to rebel against cruel social relations by seizing factories and production units to control their rights over production and form their people's congresses and committees ('No democracy without popular congresses...Committees everywhere!'[15][16][17]). The outbreak of the workers revolution shall sweep the world, destroying forces of exploitation and oppression and raising the banner of the dictum "Partners in production not wage-earners", guided by the second chapter[18][19][20] of The Green Book.
— Muammar Qaddafi, Workers' International Day of Liberation, 1 May 1982, Tripoli, Libya[21]

International Workers' Day was declared as a national public holiday on 1 May of each year, commencing 2012 by the National Transitional Council of Libya – the first year of the post-Qaddafi era.[22]


It is recognised as a public holiday on 1 May.


Every 1 May, workers in Nigeria converge at the stadium to commemorate this public holiday. It is a highly recognised holiday which all workers have to observe. On that day the president of the Nigeria Labour Congress addresses workers and this has been a tradition for decades.

South Africa

In South Africa, Workers' Day has been celebrated as a national public holiday on 1 May each year since 1994.

May Day rally in Tunis, Tunisia


In Tanzania, it is a public holiday and celebrated as the Workers' Day.


1 May is recognised as Labour Day.



In locro or asado.

The first Workers' Day celebration was in 1890, when Argentinian unions, controlled in those days by socialists and Buenos Aires and other cities, at the same time that the international labour movement celebrated it for the first time.[23] In 1930, it was established as an official holiday by the first president elected after the passage of the Sáenz Peña Law, the radical Hipólito Yrigoyen. The day became particularly relevant during the worker-oriented government of Juan Domingo Perón (1946–55).[24] He permitted and endorsed national recognition of the holiday during his tenure in office.


1 May is known as Labour Day and is a holiday.


In Brazil, Workers' Day is an official holiday, and unions commemorate it with day-long public events. It is also when salaries for most professional categories and the minimum wage are traditionally readjusted.


A notice about an anti-capitalist rally on Worker's Day in Montreal, 2011

In Canada, Labour Day is celebrated in September. In 1894, the government of Prime Minister John Sparrow David Thompson declared the first Monday in September as Canada's official Labour Day. Labor Day in the United States is on the same day.

May Day is however marked by unions and leftists. May Day is an important day of trade union and community group protest in the province of minimum wage rises.[25]


President Central Unitaria de Trabajadores, organise rallies during the morning hours, with festivities and cookouts in the later part of the day, in all the major cities of Chile. During these rallies, representatives of the major left-wing political parties speak to the assemblies on the issues of the day concerning workers’ rights.


1 May has long been recognised as Labour Day or Dia del Trabajo and almost all workers respect it as a national holiday. As in many other countries, it is common to see rallies by the trade unions in all over the main regional capitals of the country.

Costa Rica

It is recognised as a public holiday, and at the same time an important day for government activities. On this day the President of Costa Rica gives a speech to the citizens and the legislature of Costa Rica about the duties that were undertaken through the previous year. The president of the legislature is also chosen by its members.


This day is known as Día del Trabajo (Labour Day) in Cuba. People march in the streets, showing their support to their local socialist government and the

  • May Day Archive at the Marxists Internet Archive
  • Photos of May Day in Red Square during the Soviet Union
  • Photos: May Day around the world. Al Jazeera America, 1 May 2015.
  • May Day: thousands across US demand racial justice at rallies for workers' rights. The Guardian, 1 May 2015.

External links

  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^
  7. ^ Knights of Labor. Progressive Historians (3 September 2007).
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ From the diary of Anatoly Vasilyevich Lunacharsky; 1 May 1918; Petrograd
  11. ^
  12. ^ About Labour Day in Algeria Labour Day Holiday Resource.
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ The Green Book: Part One, Chapter Six: Popular Congresses and People's Committees Web Archive. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
  16. ^ , Chapter Six: Popular Conferences and People's CommitteesThe Solution of the Problem of Democracy: The Authority of the PeopleThe Green Book – Part One: Mathaba News Network – The Green Book. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
  17. ^ , Chapter Six: Popular Conferences and People's CommitteesThe Solution of the Problem of Democracy: The Authority of the PeopleThe Green Book – Part One: International Green Charter Movement – The Green Book. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
  18. ^ The Green Book: Part Two, Chapter Two: Need Web Archive. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
  19. ^ , Chapter Two: NeedThe Solution of the Economic Problem: SocialismThe Green Book – Part Two: Mathaba News Network – The Green Book. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
  20. ^ , Chapter Two: NeedThe Solution of the Economic Problem: SocialismThe Green Book – Part Two: International Green Charter Movement – The Green Book. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
  21. ^ Address to the nation and call for reforms by Muammar Qaddafi, marking celebrations of International Workers' Day on 1 May 1982 Mathaba News Network – Archive: Democracy in Industry. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
  22. ^ The transitional government on Tuesday announced a public holiday in all parts of Libya on the occasion of International Workers' Holiday. The Libyan government transition – Prime Minister's Office (in Arabic).
  23. ^ "Primero de Mayo en la Argentina. Retrieved on 1 May 2013.
  24. ^ Día del Trabajador y día de la Tradición: Dia del trabajador. Retrieved on 1 May 2013.
  25. ^
  26. ^ Días Feriados en Chile (in Spanish). Retrieved on 1 May 2013.
  27. ^ Raúl Castro presidió desfile por el Día del Trabajo en Cuba. (6 April 2013). Retrieved on 2013-05-01.
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^ Protest du Jour: May Day is rally day in Seattle | Seattle's Big Blog – (1 May 2008). Retrieved on 2013-05-01.
  32. ^ March smaller, but festive – Los Angeles Times. (2 May 2008). Retrieved on 2013-05-01.
  33. ^ "Longshoremen to close ports on West Coast to protest war" by Jack Heyman, San Francisco Chronicle, 9 April 2008
  34. ^ Della, Libero. (22 March 2010) New York May Day reborn. peoplesworld. Retrieved on 2013-05-01.
  35. ^
  36. ^ MAY DAY. Bay Area Indymedia (1 May 2010).
  37. ^
  38. ^
  39. ^ May Day 2010 – National Mobilization for Immigrant Workers Rights! Immigrant Solidarity Network.
  40. ^ May Day 2013 NYC | Another World is Possible. (5 January 2013). Retrieved on 2013-05-01.
  41. ^ de beste bron van informatie over occupymay1st. Deze website is te koop!. Retrieved on 1 May 2013.
  42. ^ Día del Trabajador en Venezuela – Magazine Digital. (30 July 2007). Retrieved on 2013-05-01.
  43. ^ Tbilisi Municipal Portal – Public Holidays. Retrieved on 1 May 2013.
  44. ^
  45. ^
  46. ^ M.V.S. Koteswara Rao. Communist Parties and United Front – Experience in Kerala and West Bengal. Hyderabad: Prajasakti Book House, 2003. p. 110
  47. ^ Report of May Day Celebrations 1923, and Formation of a New Party (The Hindu quoted in Murugesan, K., Subramanyam, C. S. Singaravelu, First Communist in South India. New Delhi: People's Publishing House, 1975. p.169
  48. ^
  49. ^
  50. ^
  51. ^
  52. ^ 113th May Day being observed today. (April 2002).
  53. ^ May Day being observed across the country. (1 May 2008).
  54. ^ a b
  55. ^
  56. ^
  57. ^
  58. ^
  59. ^
  60. ^
  61. ^
  62. ^
  63. ^
  64. ^
  65. ^ Jonas Sjöstedt talar på Sveriges största första maj-firande | Vänsterpartiet Storstockholm. Retrieved on 1 May 2013.
  66. ^ a b İşgünü Mücadelesi ve 1 Mayıs’ın Doğuşu | sınıf mücadelesinde Marksist Tutum. Retrieved on 1 May 2013.
  68. ^
  69. ^ "Kharkiv court bans Communist march, rally on May 1". Kyiv Post. 24 April 2015.
  70. ^
  71. ^
  72. ^
  73. ^


See also

While unofficial activities and commemorations associated with International Workers' Day occur on May Day in Australia, Labour Day in the various states and territories generally falls on other days. Only in the Northern Territory is Labour Day celebrated on the first Monday in May, which is a public holiday under the name of "May Day".



May Day activities (from 1978) are on the first Monday of the month. In the London, Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Doncaster. In London, these have resulted in clashes with the police. In 2000, the clashes ended with a branch of McDonald's being smashed, and a statue of Winston Churchill being given a grass Mohawk hairstyle. The Cenotaph was also defaced with graffiti.[70][71] In the last few years, demonstrations have been more peaceful, with marches and gatherings, particularly in central London.[72] The current Conservative-led coalition government in March 2011 announced plans to move the May Day bank holiday to October in order to lengthen the tourist season.[73] A London rally on May Day is organised by the London May Day Organising Committee (LMDOC).

The Stalin banner belonging to the CPGB-ML, featured in every London International Workers' Day rally since 2008

United Kingdom

In 2015, May Day rallies were banned in Kiev and Kharkiv.[69]

It is a public holiday in Ukraine, inherited from the Soviet era. Ukrainian communists and socialists celebrate the holiday with demonstrations, while other people go to picnics and spring vacations.

May Day demonstration in Odessa, Ukraine, 1 May 2014


After 3 years of peaceful meetings in 2013, meetings in Taksim Square were forbidden by the government. Clashes occurred between police and workers; water cannon and tear gas have been widely used.[68]

In 2007, the 30th anniversary of the Taksim square massacre, leftist workers' unions wanted to commemorate the massacre in Taksim square. Since the government would not let them into the square, 580–700 people were stopped and 1 person died under police control. After these events, the government declared 1 May as "Work and Solidarity Day" but not as a holiday. In the next year, the day was declared as a holiday, but people were still not allowed to gather in Taksim Square.[67] The year 2008 was remembered with police violence in Istanbul. Police fired tear gas grenades among the crowds, and into hospitals and a primary school. Workers pushed forward so that in 2010, 140,000 people gathered in Taksim, and in 2011 there were more than half a millon demonstrators.

During the events leading to the 1980 Turkish coup d'etat, a massacre occurred on 1 May 1977 (Taksim Square massacre), in which unknown people (provocateurs) opened fire on the crowd. The crowd was the biggest in Turkish workers' history with the number of people approximating 500,000. In the next two years, provocations and confusion continued and peaked before the 1980 coup d'etat. The Workers' Day holiday was cancelled once again. Still, demonstrations continued with small crowds, and in 1996, three people were killed by police bullets, and a plain-clothes man who spied in the crowd was revealed and lynched by workers. On the same evening, a video broadcast on TV showed that two participants in the demonstration were lynched by far right-wing nationalist groups and this lynching occurred in front of police forces who were watching the scene with happy faces. Thus, 1 May 1996 has been remembered by workers' movements.[66]

Workers' Day was first celebrated in 1912 in İstanbul, in 1911 in Selânik and in 1899 in İzmir. After the establishment of the Turkish Republic, it became an official holiday. In 1924, it was forbidden by a decree and in both 1924 and 1925, demonstrations were intervened by arm floats. In 1935, The National Assembly declared Workers' Day to be a holiday again.[66]

1 May is an official holiday celebrated in Turkey. It was a holiday until 1981 when it was cancelled after the 1980 coup d'état. In 2010, the Turkish government restored the holiday after some casualties and demonstrations. Taksim Square is the centre of the celebrations due to the Taksim Square massacre.

Workers marching to Taksim Square, 1 May 2012
Istanbul May Day clashes in 2013


The largest Labour Day celebrations in Switzerland are held in the city of Zürich. Each year, Zürich's 1 May committee, together with the Swiss Federation of Trade Unions, organises a festival and 1 May rally. It is the largest rally held on a regular basis in Switzerland.

  • In the cantons of Basel-Landschaft, Basel-Stadt, Jura, Neuchâtel, and Zürich, Labour Day is an official public holiday equal to Sundays, based on federal law (Bundesgesetz über die Arbeit in Industrie, Gewerbe und Handel, article 20a).
  • In the cantons of Schaffhausen, Thurgau, and Ticino, Labour Day is an official "day off" (Ruhetag). This is equal in practice to an official public holiday, but is not based on federal law and cantonal regulations may differ in details.
  • In the canton of Solothurn it is an official half-day holiday (starting at 12 noon).
  • In the canton of Fribourg, public servants get the afternoon off, many companies follow this practice.
  • In the canton of Aargau it is not an official holiday, but most employees get the afternoon off.
  • In the municipalities of Hildisrieden and Schüpfheim (both in the canton of Lucerne) as well as in Muotathal (canton of Schwyz), 1 May is an official public holiday, but as commemoration day of the local patron saint, not as Labour Day. In the other parts of the cantons of Lucerne and Schwyz, 1 May is a regular work day.
  • In all other cantons, 1 May is a regular work day.

In Switzerland, the status of 1 May differs depending on the canton and sometimes on the municipality. Labour Day is known as Tag der Arbeit in German-speaking cantons, as Fête du Travail in the French-speaking cantons, and as Festa del lavoro in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino.


The May Day demonstrations are still an important part of Swedish politics for the social democrats, left-wing parties and unions who use May Day to discuss their politics. In Stockholm the Social Democratic Party always marches towards Left Party marches in larger numbers[65] towards Kungsträdgården.

1 May has been an important part of Swedish history since the late 19th century. The day was made a public holiday in 1938 but had been celebrated by the Swedish Social Democratic Party and the Vänsterpartiet since 1890. The first May Day celebration gathered more than 50,000 people in central Stockholm. The crowd went to hear speeches by the leading figures in the Swedish labour movement such as Hjalmar Branting (later prime minister), August Palm and Hinke Bergegren. During World War I the demonstrations mainly had a peace message and the Liberal Party also joined the demonstrations. The 8-hour working day and women's suffrage were the principal themes during the troubled times after World War I.

Swedish Social Democratic Party at May Day demonstration in Stockholm, Sweden in 2006. The party has dominated Swedish politics for nearly a century. The trade union palace in Stockholm is seen at the end of the picture.


In Spain, the 1 May celebration was established after the death of Franco in 1975; before that, it had been celebrated during the Spanish Second Republic period (1931–1939), but it was banned afterwards by the Franco regime. The first time it was celebrated was in 1977, when the Communist Party of Spain was legalised. Since then, it has become an official holiday that has been traditionally used by trade unions and leftist parties for social and labour vindications. Commonly, pacific demonstrations and parades occur in major and minor cities.


May Day rally in Barcelona, Spain

In Slovenia, 1 May (and also 2 May) is a day off work and a day out of school. There are many official celebrations all over the country. In Ljubljana, the capital, many people go to Rožnik Hill in the city. On the night of 30 April, bonfires are burned on many hills.


In Slovakia, 1 May is a day off work and a day out of school. Celebrations are usually connected also with the commemoration of the entry of the Slovak Republic into the European Union (1 May 2004).


In Serbia, 1 May (and also 2 May) is a day off work and a day out of school. It is one of the major popular holidays, and the only official holiday from socialist times that is still officially celebrated. People celebrate it all over the country. By tradition 1 May is celebrated by countryside picnics and outdoor barbecues. May is marked by warm weather in Serbia. In Belgrade, the capital, most people go to Avala or Košutnjak, which are parks located in Rakovica and Čukarica. People go around the country to enjoy nature. A major religious holiday of Djurdjevdan is on 6 May so quite often days off work are given to connect these two holidays and weekend, creating a small spring break. 1 May is celebrated by most of the population regardless of political views.


May Day was celebrated illegally in Russia until the Moscow Mayor Gavriil Popov from power and putting the latter on trial". Since 1992, May Day is officially called "The Day of Spring and Labour", and remains a major holiday in present-day Russia.

Russian Communist Workers' Party demonstration on 1 May 2008 in Izhevsk


In Romania, 1 May, known as the International Labour Day (Ziua internațională a muncii), the International Workers' Day (Ziua internațională a oamenilor muncii), or simply 1/First of May (1/Întâi Mai), is an official picnics and barbecues. It is also the first day of the year when people, especially those from the southeastern part of the country including the capital Bucharest, go to spend the day in one of the Romanian Black Sea resorts.


In Portugal, the 1 May celebration was harshly repressedduring the reign of António de Oliveira Salazar and Marcelo Caetano. Since the Carnation Revolution on 25 April 1974, the Worker's Day is now celebrated by the several leftist political parties with parades and demonstrations. The first demonstration after the Carnation Revolution, only one week after the coup, stays until today as the biggest demonstration in the history of Portugal. It remains today an opportunity for the several non-permanent workers' groups to show their discontent for existing working conditions, in a parade called Primeiro de Maio (1 May). Worker's Day also represents the unionised workers that try to improve the working conditions of emigrant workers abroad. It is an official public holiday.


In Poland, since the fall of communism, 1 May is officially celebrated as May Day, but is commonly called Labour Day.[63][64]


In Norway, Labour Day (Arbeidernes Dag) is on 1 May every year. It is an official public holiday.

Norway's former Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg gives his 1 May speech in Oslo, Norway


In the Netherlands, 1 May is not an official holiday. However, several left-wing political parties and organisations celebrate International Workers' Day yearly. Small demonstrations are sometimes held, mostly by anarchist and radical socialist groups. One of the reasons labour day never got established as a national holiday might have been the fact that the day that used to immediately precede it, Queen's Day (now King's Day), was already a public holiday in its own right.


In Malta, 1 May is an official public holiday celebrated as Worker's Day together with the religious feast of St. Joseph (Patron of Workers). A free music event also takes place on this date. The Maltese also celebrate the membership of Malta in the European Union of 2004.


In Macedonia, 1 May (Macedonian: Ден на Трудот) is an official public holiday. People celebrate with friends and family at traditional picnics across the country, accompanied by the usual outdoor games, various grilled meats and beverages.


In Luxembourg, 1 May, called the Dag vun der Aarbecht ("Day of Labour"), is a legal holiday traditionally associated with large demonstrations by trade unions in Luxembourg City and other cities. Many people seize the opportunity for an outdoor picnic with family and friends, and local and national associations organise popular events for this day, among others the Festival of Labour and Cultures, organised by the Neumünster Abbey Cultural Exchange Centre in Luxembourg City.


First May Day is an official public holiday celebrated as International Work Day (Tarptautinė darbo diena). First official celebrations appeared during Soviet occupation, but it had negative communist connotation. As Lithuania declared its independence in 1990, Work Day lost its public holiday status, but regained it in 1996.


The first May Day celebration in Rai 3.


May Day celebrations in Irish Congress of Trade Unions. Rallies take place in Belfast and Dublin and other events such as lectures, concerts and film screenings also take place around a wider May Day festival. Since 1994 a public holiday in Ireland is observed on the first Monday in May.


In Iceland the Labour Day (Frídagur Verkalýðsins) is a national holiday. However many stores nowadays are open and pay higher salaries to the workers instead on this day. A parade composed of trade unions and other group marches through towns and cities across the country and speeches are delivered.


Hungary celebrates 1 May as a national holiday, with open-air festivities and fairs all over the country. Many towns raise May poles and festivals with various themes are organised around the holiday. As with other holidays, whenever 1 May falls on a Tuesday or Thursday the holiday officially becomes a long weekend when families take off to travel and hotels are booked full. Left-wing parties continue to hold public rallies commemorating Labour Day.


In Greece 1 May is an optional public holiday. The Ministry of Labour retains the right to classify it as an official public holiday on an annual basis, and it customarily does so.[61] The day is called Ergatikí Proto-magiá (Εργατική Πρωτομαγιά, lit. "Workers' 1 May") and celebrations are marked by demonstrations in which left-wing political parties, anti-authority groups and workers' unions participate. On May Day 2010 there were major protests all over Greece, most notably Athens and Thessaloniki, by many left, anarchist and communist supporters and some violent clashes with riot police who were sent out to contain the protesters. They opposed economic reforms, an end to job losses and wage cuts in the face of the government's proposals of massive public spending cuts. These reforms are to fall in line with the IMF-EU-ECB loan proposals which demand that Greece liberalise its economy and cut its public spending and private sector wages, which many believe will decrease living standards.[62]


May Day violence flared again in 2010. After an approved far right demonstration was blocked by leftists, a parade by an estimated 10,000 leftists and anarchists turned violent and resulted in an active response by Berlin police.[60]

Annual street fairs have proven an effective way to prevent riots, and May Day in 2005 and 2006 have been among the most peaceful known to Berlin in nearly 25 years. In recent years, neo-Nazis and other groups on the far right, such as the National Democratic Party of Germany, have used the day to schedule public demonstrations, often leading to clashes with left-wing protesters, which turned especially violent in Leipzig in 1998 and 2005.

Since 1987, May Day has also become known for riots in some districts of Berlin. After police actions against radical leftists in that year's annual demonstrations, the Autonome scattered and sought cover at the ongoing annual street fair in Kreuzberg. Three years prior to the reunification of Germany, violent protests would only take place in the former West Berlin. The protesters began tipping over police cars, violently resisting arrest, and began building barricades after the police withdrew due to the unforeseen resistance. Cars were set on fire, shops plundered and burned to the ground. The police eventually ended the riots the following night. These violent forms of protests by the radical left, later increasingly involved participants without political motivation. (Read more: May Day in Kreuzberg)

May Day rally in Hanover, Germany, 1 May 2013

In April 1933, the recently installed far left and Autonomen.


In France, 1 May is a public holiday. It is, in fact, the only day of the year on which employees are legally obliged to be given leave, save professions which cannot be interrupted due to their nature (such as workers in hospitals and public transport).[59] Demonstrations and marches are a Labour Day tradition in France, where trade unions organise parades in major cities to defend workers' rights. It is also customary to offer a lily of the valley to friends or family. This custom dates back to 1561, where Charles IX, aged 10, waiting for his accession to the throne, gave a lily of the valley to all ladies present. Today, the fiscal administration exempts individuals and workers' organisations from any tax or administrative duties related to the sales of lilies of the valley, provided they are gathered from the wild, and not bought to be resold.

May Day demonstration in Lyon, France


In Finland, 1 May is an official and national holiday. Apart from Workers' Day (officially: suomalaisen työn päivä, "day of Finnish labour"), it is also celebrated as a feast of students, and spring.

A May Day rally in Helsinki, Finland


In Denmark, 1 May is not an official holiday, but many people, mostly in the public sector, get a half or a whole day off. The day is celebrated in the biggest cities with speeches from politicians, labour market organisations, grass roots, etc.


In Croatia, 1 May is a national holiday. People celebrate all over the country. In Czech).


Labour Day is one of the public holidays in Bulgaria, where it is known as Labour Day and International Workers' Solidarity Day (Ден на труда и на международната работническа солидарност). The first attempt to celebrate it was in 1890 by the Bulgarian Typographical Association. In 1939, Labour Day was declared an official holiday. Since 1945 the communist authorities in the People's Republic of Bulgaria began to celebrate the holiday every year. After the end of socialism in Bulgaria in 1989 Labour Day continues to be an official and public holiday, but state authorities are not committed to the organisation of mass events. It is celebrated annually on 1 May.


In Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1 May (Bosnian and Serbian: Prvi Maj/Први Mај, Croatian: Prvi Svibanj) is an official holiday at the national level. Most people celebrate this holiday by visiting natural parks and resorts. Additionally, in some places public events are organised.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

In Belgium, Labour Day (Dutch: Dag van de Arbeid, Feest van de Arbeid, French: Journée des Travailleurs, Fête du Travail), is observed on 1 May and is an official holiday. Various socialist and communist organisations hold parades in different cities.


Labour Day (Tag der Arbeit), officially called Staatsfeiertag (state's holiday), is a public holiday in Austria. Left parties, especially social democrats organise celebrations with marches and speeches in all major cities. In smaller towns and villages those marches are held the night before.


Labour Day (Dita e punëtorëve) is an official holiday celebrated on 1 May.


Eastern Bloc countries such as the Soviet Union and most countries of central and eastern Europe that were under the rule of communist governments held official May Day celebrations in every town and city, during which party leaders greeted the crowds. Workers carried banners with political slogans and many companies decorated their company cars. The biggest celebration of 1 May usually occurred in the capital of a particular communist country and usually included a military display and the presence of the president and the secretary general of the Party. In Poland, since 1982, party leaders led the official parades, and in 1990, 1 May was renamed "State Holiday." In Hungary, May Day was officially celebrated under the communist regime, and remains a public holiday. Traditionally, the day was marked by dancing around designated "May trees."[58] Some factories in communist countries were named in honour of International Workers' Day, such as 1 Maja Coal Mine in Wodzisław Śląski, Poland.

May Day rally in Moscow, 1 May 1960

Eastern bloc under Communist governments


In Vietnam, it is known as International Labour Day and is a public holiday. The word International Workers' Day in Vietnamese is Ngày Quốc tế Lao động. It was first celebrated in 1913.


In Thailand, the day is known in English as National Labour Day, and is one of 16 official public holidays in Thailand.


In the Republic of China, 1 May is an official public holiday known as Labour Day.


1 May is known as Labour Day and is a public holiday.


In Sri Lanka, it is observed on 1 May and is a government and public holiday. The government has held official May Day celebrations in major towns and cities, with the largest being in the capital, Colombo. During celebrations, it is common to witness party leaders greeting the crowds. The United People's Freedom Alliance usually spearheads the political aspect of the Sri Lankan May Day. Workers frequently carry banners with political slogans and many parties decorate their vehicles.

Sri Lanka

In the Republic of Korea, 1 May is known simply as "Workers' Day". It is not a public holiday, but a paid holiday for workers by the Designation of Workers' Day Act.[57]

South Korea

In Singapore, it is known as Labour Day and is a public holiday.


During the Presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, a policy was adopted called holiday economics policy that moved holidays to either a Monday or a Friday to create a long weekend of three days. In 2002, Labor Day was moved to the Monday nearest to 1 May. Labour groups protested, as they accused the Arroyo administration of belittling the holiday.[55] By 2008, Labor Day was excluded in the holiday economics policy, returning the commemorations to 1 May, no matter what day of the week it falls on.[56]

1 May is known as Labor Day (Araw ng mga Manggaggawa) and is a American colonial period the Union Obrera Democratica Filipina (Filipino Democratic Labor Union) held a 100,000-person[54] rally in front of the Malacañan Palace demanding workers' economic rights and Philippine independence. Ten years later, the first official celebration was held on 1 May 1913 when 36 labour unions convened for a congress in Manila.[54] On 1 May 2001, a mass demonstration occurred near Malacañang Palace known as EDSA 3 or 1 May Riots.


1 May is known as Labour Day and is a public holiday.


"Labor Day is seen as a day of rest for many hardworking Pakistanis." - Aliza T. Baloch.

International Labour Day is observed in Pakistan on 1 May to commemorate the social and economic achievements of workers. It is a public and national holiday. All government and non-government organisations, factories and educational institutions remain closed on this day. Currently (2015), it is honoured by every single organisation in Pakistan to give respect to all those who worked, to those who are working and those who played a part in social as well as economic conditions.


In the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, 1 May is known as International Workers' Day, and is a public holiday. The Rungnado May Day Stadium in the capital of Pyongyang was built in honour of the holiday.

North Korea

May Day has been celebrated in Nepal since 1963.[52] The day became a public holiday in 2007.[53]


In Myanmar, 1 May is known as Labour Day and is a public holiday.


Maldives first observed the holiday in 2011, after a declaration by President Mohamed Nasheed. He noted that this move highlighted the government’s commitment as well as efforts of private parties to protect and promote workers’ rights in the Maldives.[51]


Malaysia began observing the holiday in 1972 following an announcement by the late Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister, Ismail Abdul Rahman.[50]


1 May is officially known as Dia do Trabalhador in Portuguese. It is a public holiday in this Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China.


1 May is known as the Workers' Day and is a public holiday. From the 1960s through the 1990s, left-wing parties and workers' unions organised major marches on this day. Recently , only symbolic marches take place on this day.


1 May is known as Labour Day and is a public holiday.


Some major labour unions organise rallies and demonstrations in Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya. Japan has a long history of labour activism and since 1945, has had a communist and socialist party in the Diet. In 2008, the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenrōren) held a rally in Yoyogi Park attended by 44,000 participants, while the National Trade Unions Council (Zenrōkyō) held its May Day rally at Hibiya Park. Rengō, the largest Japanese trade union, held its May Day rally on the following Saturday (3 May), allegedly to distance itself from the more radical labour unions.

May Day is not officially designated by the Japanese government as a national holiday, but as it lies between other national holidays, it is a day off work for the vast majority of Japanese workers. Many employers give it as a day off, and otherwise workers take it as "paid leave". 1 May occurs during "Golden Week", together with 29 April ("Shōwa Day"), 3 May ("Constitution Memorial Day"), 4 May ("Greenery Day") and 5 May ("Children's Day"). Workers generally take the day off work not so much to join street rallies or labour union gatherings, but more to go on holiday for several consecutive days (in Japanese corporate culture, taking weekdays off for personal pleasure is widely frowned upon).

2011 National Trade Union Council (Zenrokyo) May Day march, Tokyo.


In the Histadrut recognise this international holiday.


In Iraq, it is known as the International Workers' Day and is a public holiday.


In Iran, 1 May is known as the International Workers' Day. It is not a public holiday.


May Day (often referred locally as Labour Day) in Indonesia was first observed as a public holiday from 2014. Every year on the day, labourers take over the streets in major cities across the country, voicing their demands for better income & a supportive policy by the ministries.[49]

Israel, 1 May 2007
Protest march in Jakarta, Indonesia, 1 May 2007


1 May is also celebrated as "Maharashtra Day"[48] and "Gujarat Day" to mark the date in 1960, when the two western states attained statehood after the erstwhile Bombay State was divided on linguistic lines. Maharashtra Day is held at Shivaji Park in central Mumbai. Schools and offices in Maharashtra remain closed on 1 May. A similar parade is held to celebrate Gujarat Day in Gandhinagar.

The Labour Kisan party has introduced May Day celebrations in Madras. Comrade Singaravelar presided over the meeting. A resolution was passed stating that the government should declare May Day as a holiday. The president of the party explained the non-violent principles of the party. There was a request for financial aid. It was emphasised that workers of the world must unite to achieve independence.[47]

The first May Day celebration in Chennai) by the Labour Kisan Party of Hindustan on 1 May 1923.[45] This was also the first time the red flag was used in India.[46] The party leader Singaravelu Chettiar made arrangements to celebrate May Day in two places in 1923. One meeting was held at the beach opposite to the Madras High Court; the other meeting was held at the Triplicane beach. The Hindu newspaper, published from Madras reported,

In India, Labour Day is a public holiday held on every 1 May.[44] It is celebrated as Antarrashtriya Shramik Diwas. The holiday is tied to labour movements for communist and socialist political parties. Labour Day is known as "Kamgar Din" in Hindi, "Kamgar Divas" in Marathi and "Uzhaipalar dhinam" in Tamil. In North India, Labour Day is mostly not given its previous importance as a holiday now.


Soviet past, lists 1 May as a public holiday.[43]


1 May is a statutory holiday in the People's Republic of China. Prior to 2008, it was a seven-day holiday, but is now just the one day. However, it is usually supplemented by two other days to give the appearance of a three-day holiday, but not being statutory holidays the extra days have to be "made up" by working either the preceding or following weekend. For example, in 2013, 1 May fell on Wednesday. Most workplaces, including all government offices, took Monday 29 April, Tuesday 30 April, and Wednesday 1 May off. As the first two days are not statutory holidays they have to be "made up" by working the preceding weekend (27 and 28 April). In Hong Kong,1 May is known as Labour Day and has been considered a public holiday since 1999.

Protest march in Macau, China, 1 May 2010


In Cambodia, it is known as International Labour Day and is a public holiday.


In Bangladesh, it is a government holiday.


In Bahrain, 1 May is known as Labour Day and is a public holiday.



1 May is an official holiday in Venezuela. El Día del Trabajador is celebrated on 1 May in Venezuela since 1936, but from 1938 to 1945 it was held on 24 July, by an order of Eleazar López Contreras. However, Isaías Medina Angarita changed it back to 1 May in 1945.[42]


In Uruguay, 1 May – Workers' Day – is an official holiday. Even when it is associated with labour unions, almost all workers tend to respect it. Since the late 1990s, the main event takes place at the First of May Square in Montevideo.


On 1 May 2012, members of Occupy Wall Street and labour unions held protests together in a number of cities in the United States and Canada to commemorate May Day and to protest the state of the economy and economic inequality.[40][41]

[39]Arizona Senate Bill 1070 Chicago and Los Angeles most of whom protested against the [38] Albany[37] Boston,[36] San Francisco,[35][34] For May Day 2010, marches were being planned in many cities uniting immigrant and native workers including New York,[33] and the diversion of resources from domestic needs.Iraq War ports on 1 May 2008, as a protest against the continuation of the West Coast at any cargo will move no dockworkers announced that International Longshore and Warehouse Union. In March 2008, the dispersal by police officers in support of undocumented immigrant workers ended with a widely televised Los Angeles On 1 May 2007, a mostly peaceful demonstration in [32][31] In 2006, 1 May was chosen by mostly

San Jose, California, May Day March, 1 May 2006

Unions and union locals in the United States — especially in urban areas with strong support for organised labour — have maintained a connection with labour traditions through their own unofficial observances on 1 May. Some of the largest examples of this occurred during the anarchist groups and socialist and communist parties have kept the May Day tradition alive with rallies and demonstrations in such cities as New York, Chicago and Seattle, often with major union backing.[28][29][30]

In the United States, efforts to switch Labor Day from September to 1 May have not been successful. In 1921, following the Russian Revolution of 1917, 1 May was promoted as "Americanization Day" by the Veterans of Foreign Wars and other groups in opposition to communism. It became an annual event, sometimes featuring large rallies. In 1949, Americanization Day was renamed to Loyalty Day. In 1958, the U.S. Congress declared Loyalty Day, the U.S. recognition of 1 May, a national holiday; that same year, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower proclaimed 1 May Law Day as well.

Socialists in Union Square, N.Y.C. on 1 May 1912

United States

1 May is an official public holiday known as Labour Day or Día del Trabajo.


1 May is an official public holiday known as Labour Day or Día del Trabajo.


1 May is an official public holiday known as Labour Day or Día del Trabajo.


1 May is a federal holiday known as Día del Trabajo or Labour Day. It also commemorates the Cananea Strike of 1906 in the Mexican state of Sonora.


1 May is an official public holiday known as Agriculture and Labour Day or Fete de l'Agriculture et du Travail.


1 May is an official public holiday known as Labour Day or Día del Trabajo.


It is an official holiday and it is commemorated with parades.

El Salvador

It is recognised as a public holiday known as Labour Day or Día del Trabajador


1 May is a national holiday known as Labour Day or Día del Trabajo which is celebrated by workers' parades and demonstration.

Dominican Republic


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