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
Armenia Armenia 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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