The origin of International Labor Day Apr 28,2024

"May Day" International Labor Day, also known as International Labor Day, was born in July 1889. It has gone through decades of struggle from being proposed to being finalized.

At the end of the 19th century, many countries and regions such as the United States and Europe gradually transitioned to the stage of monopoly capitalism. In order to extract more surplus value, capitalists continue to exploit workers by increasing working hours and increasing labor intensity.

In 1877, the first national strike in American history began. The working class took to the streets and asked the government to improve working and living conditions, shorten working hours, and implement an eight-hour working day. Under strong pressure from the labor movement, the U.S. Congress was forced to pass an eight-hour work day. However, it is obvious that the government and the capitalists have a tacit understanding on this. Everyone turns a blind eye, and the situation of the workers has not changed substantially. Finally, the workers who couldn't bear it decided to hold a larger strike to fight for their rights.

In October 1884, eight international and national workers' groups in the United States and Canada held a rally in Chicago, USA, and decided to hold a general strike on May 1, 1886. On May 1, 350,000 workers from more than 20,000 companies in the United States stopped work and took to the streets to hold a massive demonstration. In Chicago alone, 45,000 workers took to the streets, and major industrial sectors in the United States came to a standstill.

At that time, there was a popular song "The Eight Hour Song" among the striking workers. The song sings: "We want to change the world. We are tired of working in vain. We only get a subsistence salary and no time for us to think. We want to smell the flowers and bask in the sun. We believe: God only allows 8 hours of work. We gathered our team from shipyards, workshops and factories to strive for 8 hours of work, 8 hours of rest, and 8 hours for ourselves!”

Although this strike was suppressed by the U.S. authorities, it still shocked the entire United States and eventually forced the U.S. government to announce the implementation of an eight-hour working day. To commemorate the strike movement of American workers, on July 14, 1889, the Second International organized by Engels held its founding conference in Paris and announced that May 1st of each year would be a common holiday for the proletariat and workers around the world. International Labour Day.

This decision immediately received a positive response from workers around the world. On May 1, 1890, the working class in many European countries took to the streets to fight for their legitimate rights and interests. At present, more than 80 countries in the world have designated International Labor Day as a national holiday.

The history of Chinese people celebrating Labor Day can be traced back to 1918. At that time, some intellectuals distributed leaflets to the masses in Shanghai, Suzhou and other places, introducing concepts such as "labor rights", "labor dignity" and "labor sanctity" into China. On May 1, 1920, workers in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and other cities took to the streets and held massive demonstrations and rallies with the theme of "The Sacredness of Labor."

After the founding of the People's Republic of China, the Government Affairs Council of the Central People's Government designated May 1 as the legal Labor Day in December 1949. Since 1989, the State Council has commended national model workers and advanced workers basically every five years, with about 3,000 people commended each time. With their own practical actions, they have created the great model worker spirit of "loyalty, dedication, striving for excellence, hard work, innovation, indifference to fame and fortune, and willingness to contribute", which has become an important part of the great national spirit.

Today, many countries around the world still retain various forms of Labor Day customs.

For example, Russia will have a nationwide holiday on this day, and hold various celebrations and mass demonstrations. Generally speaking, the "May Day" parade first passes through the city's main streets and squares, and finally gathers in the ancient or wide central square.

For another example, Germany "mixes" International Labor Day with its local Valentine's Day. On May 1st every year, birch trunks called "Maypoles" are erected in many places in Germany. Girls will write their love wishes and hang them up, hoping to get a response from their sweethearts. In addition, in traditional German culture, the "Maypole" also symbolizes vitality. Therefore, in many places, it is the custom to gather in a circle under the Maypole for dinner on May 1st. Many Germans will also dance in the fields on this day to pray for a good harvest in the coming year.

However, not all countries designate May 1 as Labor Day, such as the United States, where it originated. The United States designates the first Monday in September as "Labor Day." There are two opinions on the determination of this time. The first is that in September 1882, various unions in New York City held rallies and achieved good results; the second is that the union leaders at the time believed that the climate in early September was very comfortable and they had a holiday on this day , which allows workers to rest better and also facilitates trade unions to carry out various activities.

Overall, compared to more than 100 years ago, the treatment of workers in various countries around the world has undergone qualitative changes. The "May Day" International Labor Day, as its name indicates, has become the most internationally influential and common holiday for workers around the world.

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