One Day in May

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Workers frequently carry banners with political slogans and many parties decorate their vehicles. In Thailand, the day is known in English as National Labour Day, and is one of 17 official public holidays in Thailand. It was first celebrated in Eastern Bloc countries such as the Soviet Union and most countries of central and eastern Europe that were under the rule of communist governments held official May Day celebrations in every town and city, during which party leaders greeted the crowds. Workers carried banners with political slogans and many companies decorated their company cars.

The biggest celebration of 1 May usually occurred in the capital of a particular communist country and usually included a military display and the presence of the president and the secretary general of the party.

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In Poland , since , party leaders led the official parades. In Hungary, May Day was officially celebrated under the communist regime, and remains a public holiday. Traditionally, the day was marked by dancing around designated "May trees". Labour Day Tag der Arbeit , officially called Staatsfeiertag state's holiday , is a public holiday in Austria. Left parties, especially social democrats organize celebrations with marches and speeches in all major cities. In smaller towns and villages those marches are held the night before. Most people celebrate this holiday by visiting natural parks and resorts.

One Day in May

Additionally, in some places public events are organized. In its capital city, Sarajevo, 12 and 13 June are also celebrated as Labour day due to its many natural parks and springs. The first attempt to celebrate it was in by the Bulgarian Typographical Association. In , Labour Day was declared an official holiday. Since the communist authorities in the People's Republic of Bulgaria began to celebrate the holiday every year. After the end of socialism in Bulgaria in Labour Day continues to be an official and public holiday, but state authorities are not committed to the organization of mass events.

It is celebrated annually on 1 May. In Croatia, 1 May is a national holiday. Many public events are organized and held all over the country where bean soup is given out to all people as a symbol of a real workers' dish. Red carnations are also handed out to symbolise the origin of the day. In Zagreb , the capital, a major gathering is in Maksimir Park , which is located in the east part of Zagreb. In Split, the largest city on the coast, people go to Marjan, a park-forest at the western end of Split peninsula. In general, all stores remain closed in public and private sector.

The Labor Union and Syndicates celebrate with various festivals and events across the country. In Denmark , 1 May is not an official holiday, but many people, mostly in the public sector, construction industry, and production industry, get a half or a whole day off. It was first celebrated in Copenhagen in Many other events are also held around the country to commemorate the day. In Finland, 1 May is an official and national holiday.


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In France, 1 May is a public holiday. It is, in fact, the only day of the year when employees are legally obliged to be given leave, save professions that cannot be interrupted due to their nature such as workers in hospitals and public transport. It is also customary to offer a lily of the valley to friends or family. This custom dates back to , when king Charles IX , aged 10, waiting for his accession to the throne, gave a lily of the valley to all ladies present.

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Today, the fiscal administration exempts individuals and workers' organizations from any tax or administrative duties related to the sales of lilies of the valley, provided they are gathered from the wild, and not bought to be resold. In April , the recently installed Nazi government declared 1 May the "Day of National Work", an official state holiday, and announced that all celebrations were to be organized by the government. Any separate celebrations by communists, social democrats or labour unions were banned.

In communist East Germany, workers were de facto required to participate in large state-organized parades on May Day. Today in Germany it is simply called "Labour Day" Tag der Arbeit , and there are numerous demonstrations and celebrations by independent workers' organizations. Today, Berlin witnesses yearly demonstrations on May Day, the largest organized by labour unions, political parties and others by the far left and Autonomen. Since , May Day has also become known for riots in some districts of Berlin.

After police actions against radical leftists in that year's annual demonstrations, the Autonome scattered and sought cover at the ongoing annual street fair in Kreuzberg. Three years prior to the reunification of Germany , violent protests would only take place in the former West Berlin. The protesters began tipping over police cars, violently resisting arrest, and began building barricades after the police withdrew due to the unforeseen resistance.

Cars were set on fire, shops plundered and burned to the ground. The police eventually ended the riots the following night. These violent forms of protests by the radical left, later increasingly involved participants without political motivation. Read more: May Day in Kreuzberg. Annual street fairs have proven an effective way to prevent riots, and May Day in and have been among the most peaceful known to Berlin in nearly 25 years.

In recent years, neo-Nazis and other groups on the far right , such as the National Democratic Party of Germany , have used the day to schedule public demonstrations, often leading to clashes with left-wing protesters, which turned especially violent in Leipzig in and May Day violence flared again in After an approved far right demonstration was blocked by leftists, a parade by an estimated 10, leftists and anarchists turned violent and resulted in an active response by Berlin police.

In Greece 1 May is an optional public holiday. The Ministry of Labour retains the right to classify it as an official public holiday on an annual basis, and it customarily does so.

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On May Day in , there were major protests all over Greece, most notably Athens and Thessaloniki , by many left, anarchist and communist supporters and some violent clashes with riot police who were sent out to contain the protesters. They opposed economic reforms, an end to job losses and wage cuts in the face of the government's proposals of massive public spending cuts. These reforms are to fall in line with the IMF-EU-ECB loan proposals, which demand that Greece liberalize its economy and cut its public spending and private sector wages, which many believe will decrease living standards.

Hungary celebrates 1 May as a national holiday, with open-air festivities and fairs all over the country. Many towns raise May poles and festivals with various themes are organized around the holiday.


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Left-wing parties and trade unions hold public rallies commemorating Labour Day. The first demonstration for workers rights in Island occurred in A parade composed of trade unions and other groups marches through towns and cities across the country and speeches are delivered. The first Monday in May has been a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland since [] and in Northern Ireland since [].

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The first May Day celebration in Italy took place in It started initially as an attempt to celebrate workers' achievements in their struggle for their rights and for better social and economic conditions. It was abolished under the Fascist regime and immediately restored after the Second World War. During the fascist period, a "Holiday of the Italian Labour" Festa del lavoro italiano was celebrated on 21 April, the date of Natale di Roma , when ancient Rome was allegedly founded.

May Day is now an important celebration in Italy and is a national holiday regardless of what day of the week it falls. The concert is usually broadcast live by Rai 3.

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Celebrations for workers' day were mandatory during the Soviet occupation , and carry a negative connotation as a result today. As Lithuania declared its independence in , Work Day lost its public holiday status, but regained it in In Estonia , 1 May is a public holiday celebrated as Spring Day. In Luxembourg, 1 May, called the Dag vun der Aarbecht "Day of Labour" , is a legal holiday traditionally associated with large demonstrations by trade unions in Luxembourg City and other cities. In Malta, 1 May is an official public holiday celebrated as "Workers' Day", [] together with the religious feast of " Saint Joseph the Worker".

Saint Joseph's Day , 19 March, the saint's main feast, is also a public holiday in Malta. It is the only official holiday from socialist times that is still officially celebrated. Before , 2 may was also a public holiday. People celebrate with friends and family at traditional picnics across the country, accompanied by the usual outdoor games, various grilled meats and beverages.

Left organizations and some trade unions organize protests on 1 May. It is traditionally a day of marches, speeches and parties organized by labour unions , leftist political parties and feminist and anti-racist organizations to voice political concerns and celebrate solidarity.

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In Poland, since the fall of communism, 1 May is officially celebrated as May Day , but is commonly called Labour Day. However, due to historical connotations, most of the large organized celebrations are focused around Labour Day festivities.


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  • It is customary for labour activists to organize parades in cities and towns across Poland. The day, however, does not force paid time off. The first workers' day demonstration was held a week after the Carnation Revolution of 25 April It is still the largest demonstration in the history of Portugal. It is used as an opportunity for workers and workers' groups to voice their discontent over working conditions in demonstrations across Portugal, the largest being held in Lisbon.

    It is an official public holiday. During the communist regime , like in all former Eastern Bloc countries, the day was marked by large state-organized parades in most towns and cities. After the Romanian Revolution of , 1 May continues to be an official public holiday, but without any state organized events or parades. Most people celebrate together with friends and family, organising picnics and barbecues. It is also the first day of the year when people, especially those from the southeastern part of the country including the capital Bucharest , go to spend the day in one of the Romanian Black Sea resorts.