Labour Day

Holiday observed in many countries around the world

Labour day

Who observes Labour Day in 2016?
Albania Albania Algeria Algeria
Angola Angola Argentina Argentina
Austria Austria Bahrain Bahrain
Bangladesh Bangladesh Belarus Belarus
Belgium Belgium Bolivia Bolivia
Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Botswana
Brazil Brazil Bulgaria Bulgaria
Burundi Burundi Cambodia Cambodia
Chile Chile China China
Colombia Colombia Costa Rica Costa Rica
Croatia Croatia Cyprus Cyprus
Czech Republic Czech Republic Denmark Denmark
Ecuador Ecuador Egypt Egypt
El Salvador El Salvador Ethiopia Ethiopia
Finland Finland France France
Germany Germany Ghana Ghana
Greece Greece Grenada Grenada
Honduras Honduras Hong Kong Hong Kong
Hungary Hungary Iceland Iceland
India India (regional) Indonesia Indonesia
Iraq Iraq Italy Italy
Jordan Jordan Kenya Kenya
Latvia Latvia Lebanon Lebanon
Libya Libya Lithuania Lithuania
Luxembourg Luxembourg Macau Macau
Macedonia Macedonia Malaysia Malaysia
Maldives Maldives Malta Malta
Mauritius Mauritius Mexico Mexico
Moldova Moldova Montenegro Montenegro
Morocco Morocco Myanmar Myanmar
Nigeria Nigeria Norway Norway
Pakistan Pakistan Paraguay Paraguay
Peru Peru Philippines Philippines
Poland Poland Portugal Portugal
Romania Romania Russia Russia
Rwanda Rwanda Saint Lucia Saint Lucia
Serbia Serbia Singapore Singapore
Slovakia Slovakia Slovenia Slovenia
South Africa South Africa South Korea South Korea
Spain Spain Sri Lanka Sri Lanka
Sweden Sweden Switzerland Switzerland (regional)
Tanzania Tanzania Tunisia Tunisia
Turkey Turkey Uganda Uganda
Ukraine Ukraine Uruguay Uruguay
Venezuela Venezuela Vietnam Vietnam
Yemen Yemen Zambia Zambia
Zimbabwe Zimbabwe

This holiday is most commonly associated as a commemoration of the achievements of the labour movement. The holiday may also be known as May Day or International Worker's Day.

The 1 May date is used because in 1884 the American Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions demanded an eight-hour workday, to come in effect as of 1 May 1886. This resulted in the general strike and the Haymarket Riot of 1886, but eventually also in the official sanction of the eight-hour workday.

1 May is celebrated as Labour Day in most countries around the world. In the United Kingdom the bank holiday isn't fixed at May 1st, but instead is observed on the first Monday of May.


In 2016, May Day falls on a Sunday which will cause some disruption in the days after 1 May. For a comprehensive list of who is off on what days for May Day, click here.

In the 20th century, the holiday received the official endorsement of the Soviet Union, and it is also celebrated as the Day of the International Solidarity of Workers, especially in some Communist states. Celebrations in communist countries during the Cold War era often consisted of large military parades with the latest weaponry being exhibited as well as shows of common people in support of the government.

Curiously (given the origin of the 1 May date), the United States celebrates Labor Day on the first Monday of September (1 May is Loyalty Day, a legal but not widely recognized holiday in the United States). There is some suggestion that the reason for this was to avoid the commemoration of riots that had occurred in 1886. The adoption of May Day by communists and socialists as their primary holiday have been as a another reason as they further inceased official resistance to May Day labor celebrations in America.

Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands also celebrate Labour Day on different dates; though that has to do with how the holiday originated in those countries.

May Day has long been a focal point for demonstrations by various communist, socialist, and anarchist groups.

1 May was also a pagan holiday in many parts of Europe, Its roots as a holiday stretch back to the Gaelic Beltane. It was considered the last day of winter when the beginning of summer was celebrated.

During Roman times, 1 May was seen as a key period to celebrate fertility and the arrival of spring. The Roman festival of Flora, the goddess of flowers and the season of spring, was held between 28 April and 3 May.

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.

In Sweden May day is also a Christian celebration; the Mass of Saint Walburga or Walpurgis Night is celebrated on the evening of 30 April.

A key May Day celebration in Italy is the the annual Concerto del Primo Maggio which takes place in Rome and is  attended by more than half a million people.

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