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Labour Day

1st May Labour Day
Labour Day

Labour Day (Labor Day in the United States) is an annual holiday to celebrate the achievements of workers. Labour 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.

For most countries, Labour Day is synonymous with, or linked with, International Workers' Day, which occurs on 1 May. For other countries, Labour Day is celebrated on a different date, often one with special significance for the labour movement in that country.

In Canada and the United States, Labour Day is celebrated on the first Monday of September and considered the unofficial end of summer, with summer vacations ending and students returning to school around then. More info: Wikipedia

For many of us, Labor Day, which falls on the first Monday in September, means the end of summer vacation, a forceful ordainment not to wear white, and an excuse for department stores to have sales. Outside of North America, Labor Day falls on May 1, and the existence of two separate Labor Days can be a source of confusion for some. But as with all holidays, it’s important to keep in mind the history behind our happy day off, and remember that Labor Day is a celebration of laborers, introduced at a time when labor meant something far more grueling than it generally denotes today.

May Day originates from the United States labor union movement in the late 19th Century, particularly the eight-hour day movement, which advocated eight hours for work per day. In Late nineteenth century the working conditions were severe and unsafe. Working people had to work 12-16 hours per day. In 1884 the FOLTU (Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions) which later became the American Federation of Labor passed a resolution that "eight hours shall constitute a legal day's labor from and after 1st May, 1886". By 1886 around 250,000 workers were involved in the eight-hour Day movement. On 1st May, 1886 several labour unions across the US went on strike, demanding a standard eight hours of workday. On 4th May there was bloodshed in Chicago's Haymarket, a bomb was thrown by a revolutionist led to the deaths of a dozen of people and the injury of over 100 people. Five years later this day is recognized as a holiday by a socialist organization.

The first Labor Day celebration took place in NYC on September 5, 1882, when about 10,000 union workers marched in a parade to honor the American worker, who at the time were without the labor laws we now take for granted. This event was a catalyst that spread the Labor Day sentiment across America. Beginning with Oregon in 1887, a number of states adopted Labor Day as a legal holiday scheduled for the first Monday of September.

lsewhere in the world, laborers are honored on May Day (May 1), also known as International Workers’ Day. This holiday was instituted by countries worldwide in response to the Haymarket Riot of 1886, a peaceful protest gone awry with another violent altercation against the Chicago workforce by the police. Although the events that instigated May Day took place in America, the United States did not adopt it as a legal holiday, and the countries that did celebrated the day in unique ways. May Day was particularly embraced in the Soviet Union and Eastern-bloc, but with the fall of communism in Eastern Europe the holiday has grown more and more removed from its violent origins. This is not unlike Labor Day in America, which is little remembered for the labor required to grant us this one day off.

RJ Zubair Ansari

RJ Zubair Ansari

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