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What is May Day/Labour Day? 11 Interesting Facts to Know About

Labour Day/May Day is celebrated to pay tributes to the struggles and gains made by workers and labourers across the globe. Here are some interesting facts about the day.

India TV News Desk India TV News Desk
New Delhi Updated on: May 01, 2020 11:39 IST
What is May Day/Labour Day? 11 Interesting Facts to Know About
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What is May Day/Labour Day? 11 Interesting Facts to Know About

Labour Day, also known as May Day/ International Workers' Day is celebrated worldwide on May 1, to pay tributes to the struggles and gains made by workers and labourers across the globe. Celebrated nationally and internationally, Labour Day is an occasion that commemorates the contributions of workers and the historic labour movement.

Labour Day in India 

On May 1, 1923, the first May Day celebration was organised in Madras (now Chennai) by the Labour Kisan Party of Hindustan. This was also the time when the red flag was first used in India. The day is tied to labour movements for communist and socialist political parties.

It should be noted that May 1 is also celebrated as 'Maharashtra Day' and 'Gujarat Day' to mark the date in 1960 when the two western states attained statehood after the erstwhile Bombay State was divided on linguistic lines.

11 interesting facts about May Day/ Labour Day

  • On 1 May 1886, the labour unions in the United States decided to go on a strike demanding that workers should not be made to work for more than 8 hours a day. Just three days after the strike began, a blast occurred in Chicago's Haymarket Square leaving many dead. To honour those workers who died in the blast, the International Socialist Conference declared May 1 as a day designated for labourers.
  • J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a co-founder of the American Federation of Labour, was the person who suggested the idea to mark this day in remembrance of labourers. 
  • Labour Day has always been marked by celebrations, protests and strikes across the world. Some of the most well-known events of the day include the US civil disobedience acts against the Vietnam War in 1971.
  • In India, Labour Day is also celebrated as ‘Antarrashtriya Shramik Diwas’, ‘Uzhaipalar Dinam’ (Tamil) or ‘Kamgar Din’ and its first formal celebration was initiated by the ‘Labour Kisan Party of Hindustan’ in Chennai on May 01 1923. 
  • The red flag, which symbolises Labour Day, was used for the first time in India. Prominent communist leader Malayapuram Singaravelu Chettiar raised the flag and arranged meetings to celebrate the occasion.
  • On September 5, 1882, New York's Central Labor Union held a parade to celebrate union work and show support for all unions. More than 10,000 union workers took unpaid time off work to march from City Hall, past Union Square, and up to 42nd Street.
  • Oregon was the first state to recognize Labour Day as a legal holiday on February 21, 1887. That same year, Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York also legally adopted the holiday.
  • On June 28, 1894, the decision to make Labor Day the first Monday of September was approved.
  • Canada celebrated Labor Day in 1872, ten years before the United States.
  • During the 19th century, Americans worked 12-hour days seven days a week.
  • The expression “no white after Labor Day” comes from when the upper class would return from their summer vacations and stow away their lightweight, white summer clothes as they returned back to school and work.
  • New York City, still have a Labour Day parade that takes place throughout the 20 blocks north of the 1882 labour march.

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