May Day is a May 1 celebration with a long and changed history, dating back centuries. All through the long time, there have been numerous distinctive occasions and celebrations around the world, most with the express reason of welcoming in a alter of season (spring within the Northern Side of the equator). Within the 19th century, May Day took on a modern meaning which is as an International Workers’ Day or Labour Day. It occurred due to the 19th-century labor movement for worker’s rights and an eight-hour workday within the USA. May Day 2020 is celebrated on May 1, 2020.

What is the story of May Day?

May 1 was initially significant as the festival of Beltane was held on that day by a group of people called the Celts of the British Isles. Beltane festival represents the peak of spring and the beginning of summer. Earth energies are at their strongest and most active on April 30th-May 01. All of life bursts with potent fertility and at this point in the Wheel of the Year, the potential becomes conception. On May Eve the sexuality of life and the earth is at its peak. Abundant fertility, on all levels, is the central theme of Beltane festival. Later when the Romans took over the British Isles they introduced a five day celebration known as Floralia, devoted to the worship of the goddess of flowers, Flora. Taking place between April 20 and May 2, the rituals of this celebration were eventually combined with Beltane.

May Day 2020: What Is May Day? International Workers Day

Why May 1 is celebrated as Labour day?

The connection between May Day and labor rights began in the United States. During the 19th century, due to the Industrial Revolution, thousands of men, women and children were dying every year from poor working conditions and long hours. In an attempt to end these inhumane conditions, the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions (which would later become the American Federation of Labor, or AFL) held a convention in Chicago in 1884. The FOTLU proclaimed “eight hours shall constitute a legal day’s labor from and after May 1, 1886.”

The FOTLU was backed by the Knights of Labour which was America’s largest labor organization back then. They too encouraged the workers to go on a strike. On May 1, 1886, more than 300,000 workers (40,000 in Chicago alone) from 13,000 business walked out of their jobs across the country. In the following days, more workers joined and the number of strikers grew to almost 100,000.

What is May Day and why is it celebrated?

It was a peaceful protest up until May 3 when workers and the Chicago police clashed at the McCormick Reaper Works. A rally was held next day ay Haymarket Square to protest the killing and wounding of several workers by the police. When the police came to disperse the crowd, an unidentified man threw a bomb that killed at least 7 police officers and 8 civilians. It was called a ‘Haymarket Riot’ or the ‘Haymarket Affair’.

A few years after the Haymarket Riot and subsequent trials shocked the world, a newly formed coalition of socialist and labor parties in Europe called for a demonstration to honor the “Haymarket Martyrs.” The International Socialist Congress held on 14 July 1889 designated May 1 as Labour Day, and since then the day has been observed by labouring classes in many countries. In 1890, over 300,000 people protested at a May Day rally in London. The workers’ history of May 1 was eventually embraced by many governments worldwide, not just those with socialist or communist influences.

May Day today

Today, May Day is an official holiday as International Workers’ Day in 66 countries, including Bangladesh and unofficially celebrated in many more, but ironically it is rarely recognized in the country where it began, the United States of America. Also, Beltane festival is still observed by Gaels (modern Irish peopleScottish people and Manx people), Wiccans, and Celtic neopagans on this day.

May Day is also a public holiday in Bangladesh as said earlier. It is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed. In 2020, it falls on a Friday, and some businesses may choose to follow Friday opening hours. Workers across the country would march holding the red flag and hold discussions to commemorate the industrial workers who gave life at Hay Market, Chicago to establish eight-hour working day, 131 years ago.

May Day 2020: What Is May Day? International Workers Day

What is the importance of May Day?

In Bangladesh, the Day is watched with numerous ceremonies, such as ‘Good Will’ messages are sent from the head of the State, the Government and the Labour Ministry to workers. Gatherings are held recapitulating the centrality of the May occurrence at Chicago; daily paper supplements are issued urging individuals to consider the holiness of the day; labour processions are organized with colourful trims and headwear; discussions are organized within the print and electronic media, and so on. Activities for all these are normally taken by the government, a step that’s very exceptional in a non-socialist nation. On this day, workers organize rallies and parades not to denote their grievances, but to celebrate the triumphs that they had been able to attain in the past.

The Communist Party of Bangladesh, the Workers Party of Bangladesh, Socialist Party of Bangladesh, Sramik-Karmachari Oikya Parishad, Bangladesh Trade Union Centre, Garment Sramik Trade Union Centre, Jatiyo Sramik Jote, Jatiyo Samajtantrik Srmaik Jote, Bangladesh Garment Sramik Sanghati, Greenbangla Garment Workers Federation, Readymade Garments Workers Federation, Bikalpa Sramik Dhara, Imarat Nirman Sramik Union, Sarak Paribahan Sramik League, Karmajibi Nari and other unions celebrate the day through separate programs.

Who started May Day?

On May 01,2017, Trade Union Centre president Shahidullah Chowdhury and general secretary Wajed-ul Islam Khan in a statement said that the May Day celebrations in Bangladesh would take place in the backdrop of denial of just wages, trade union rights and safe workplace to workers. Discriminatory wages continues to deprive female workers in Bangladesh, they said and urged upon all the workers to launch a united movement to realize their just demands and do away with discriminations.

Like this, every year demands of labourers in Bangladesh are addressed on May day as a tribute for the protesters who fought for rather human rights and not workers’ right.

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