May Day in China, International Labor Day: Raucous celebrations


May 1st is International Labor Day in China, or May Day if one goes by the terms of old. What does this mean? Simple: A day off.

May Day celebrations harken back to the days of yore. Early Europeans celebrated a number of deities May 1, which was seen as a halfway point between spring and summer. Christianity put a damper on the pagan celebrations and replaced them with Easter. The ancients held raucous celebrations, more about that latter.

May 1 is also known as International Labor Day. In many nations, it is a “workers’ holiday” commemorating Chicago’s Haymarket Massacre of 1886. Workers were shot and killed by police while striking for an eight-hour workday.

Until 2008, International Labor Day was a 7 seven day holiday in China. It was perfect: The halfway point of the school term. Two months done, two months left. Seven glorious days to travel in The Middle Kingdom, along with 1 billion other people.

China’s national holidays were changed in 2008, leaving May Day as a single day off. But, three more holidays were gained.Ā  Tomb Sweeping Day, the Dragon Boat Festival, and Mid-Autumn Festival, formerly folk celebrations, were each made a national holiday. The seven-day May Day holiday became four long weekends. With that, holidays in China became much like Canada.

International Labor Day is a national holiday in China, Nepal, Germany, Brazil, Finland, Sweden, Iceland, Norway, and Hungary. Because of the May Day celebrations held in the former USSR and communist bloc countries, America celebrates Law Day or Loyalty Day on May 1. American legislators moved Labor Day to September in 1958. Canada also celebrates Labor Day in September, and Australia and New Zealand in late October.

I labor, so I’m pretty happy to have a holiday. Whether it’s honoring a nearly forgotten Roman goddess or nineteenth-century labor martyrs, I’m happy to have a day sans work. Given the raucous celebrations of old, I will spend the afternoon of May 1 at a local establishment taking part in another ancient ritual: Happy Hour. My colleagues and I will have our own raucous celebration, raising a pint to the Haymarket Four, and whichever deities we can remember as our memories become clouded with two-for-one malty beverages.

To all and sundry, Happy International Labour Day, or May Day!

Image: Go Kunming


10 Comments Add yours

  1. Corina says:

    As long as it involves a day off, who can protest? šŸ˜‰

    Corina´s last blog post..Let It Be

  2. Can’t wait to see your shots from Macau and Beijing.

    Craig Ferguson´s last blog post..May Desktop Calendar

  3. ybonesy says:

    Those silly American legislators. I wonder if they just felt we already had a May holiday so spread the love around.

    ybonesy´s last blog post..Ghost With A Green Thumb

  4. Mark Forman says:

    Good post Stevo. I too look forward to upcoming trip shots. Watch out for the scrubbing bubbles in those pints.

  5. Hey I’ve heard about that wall! Finally, someone to confirm it is actually there. Man I envy you going to that show. If I find a minute I’ll send off an email.

    Expatriate Games´s last blog post..Seen in a Rice Paddy

  6. Robin says:

    It’s a little late but… Happy May Day, Stevo. I used to celebrate it as Beltane in my pagan days, being an ancient and all. šŸ˜‰

    Looking forward to seeing your shots of the Great Wall.

    Robin´s last blog post..The little things

  7. Shawn says:

    That’s a fun photo! Are all the festivals in China so colorful?

    I agree with the others about looking forward to pics of the Great Wall.

    Shawn´s last blog post..Still Around

  8. melanismo says:

    Wow , it is Labor Day! I’m enjoying my extra day off, and I am planning to doing something fun that will probably involve a car trip and seeing something new in Honolulu I haven’t seen yet.
    You write new post on a Monday at the labor day? … HapPY BLOgGING!

  9. Think happy hour is sacred, no matter where you live. LOL.
    .-= SenseiMattKleinĀ“s last blog ..Never Give Up | Anything can happen in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu =-.

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