Labour Day is now most commonly associated as a commemoration of the achievements of the labour movement. The holiday may also be known as Labour Day or International Worker’s Day and is marked with a public holiday in over 80 countries.
Labour Day around the world
Traditional English May Day rites and celebrations include Morris dancing, crowning a May Queen, and dancing around a Maypole; festivities which made it a popular seasonal celebration in medieval England.
Labour Day was established as an official holiday in 1933 after the NSDAP rose to power. It was supposed to symbolize the new found unity between the state and the working classes. Ironically, just one day later, on May 2, 1933, all free unions were outlawed and destroyed. But since the holiday had been celebrated by German workers for many decades before the official state endorsement, the NSDAP attempt to appropriate it left no long-term resentment.
In India, the first formal celebration of Labour Day was instigated by the Labour Kisan Party of Hindustan in Chennai (known as Madras) on 1 May 1923. It is observed as a holiday in Assam, Bihar, Goa, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Manipur, Tamil Nadu, Tripura and West Bengal.
It is celebrated as Antarrashtriya Shramik Diwas and is also known as Kamgar Din in Hindi, Kamgar Divas in Marathi and Uzhaipalar Dhinam in Tamil.
A key May Day (La Festa dei Lavoratori) celebration in Italy is the annual Concerto del Primo Maggio which takes place in Rome and is attended by more than half a million people.
In Sweden Labour day is also a Christian celebration; the Mass of Saint Walburga or Walpurgis Night is celebrated on the evening of 30 April.
In Switzerland, Labour Day is a holiday in the following 11 cantons: Appenzell Ausserrhoden, Basel-Landschaft, Basel-Stadt, Fribourg, Jura, Neuchâtel, Schaffhausen, Solothurn, Thurgau, Ticino, and Zurich. The status of the holiday may vary between the cantons, for instance in Solothurn, it is a holiday in the afternoon.