International Labor Day: A Workers’ holiday

(Last Updated On: May 15, 2009)

May 1st is International Labor Day. This is a week-long, national holiday in China.

In North America I had associated Labour (the correct Canadian spelling) Day, the September holiday, as a last-fling with summer. It was a day of barbeques, cold beer, and lawn chairs. Sure, there were union parades, that grew smaller and smaller as the years passed.

Flag Raising Tiananmen Square

After a couple of months in China I was given an entire week off, paid, for Labor Day, or May Day, or, International Workers’ Day. This is my third and I have never questioned the reasons behind such a holiday. Why look a gift horse in the mouth?
I did some research and discovered this is actually a holiday I can sink my teeth into. Being an anarchist-revolutionary type this holiday speaks to inner rebel.

From Wikipedia
Among American non-pagans, May Day is now more commonly celebrated as a commemoration of the Haymarket Riot of 1886 in Chicago, United States which occurred on May 4, but was the culmination of labor unrest which began on May 1. The date consequently became established as an anarchist and socialist holiday during the 20th century, and in these circles it is often known as International Workers’ Day or Labour Day. In this form, May Day has become an international celebration of the social and economic achievements of the working class and labor movement.

In my neck of the woods the holiday is celebrated this way:

In the People’s Republic of China, International Workers’ Day marks the start of one of the country’s three so-called “Golden Weeks”. Three days off work are given, and the surrounding weekends are re-arranged so that workers in Chinese workplaces always have seven continuous days of holiday starting on the first of May and ending on the seventh. This holiday, known as “Wu Yi” (五一, literally “5.1”) also includes Youth Day on May 4, and is the peak period for Chinese citizens to travel around China and abroad. Also on this day, a huge parade goes through Tian’anmen Square (天安门). It is the largest national parade of the whole year, always televised on CCTV. Most of the parade consists of military demonstrations like air shows and marching soldiers, and many who are selected to join the parade see it as a privilege and take pride in it.

This week long holiday will consist of me catching up on sleep and watching the remaining 10 episodes of Battlestar Galactica, Season 3.

Workers of the word unite! Long live the revolution. etc.

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