The first of May is the International Worker’s Day, also called Labour Day or May Day in numerous countries. It’s a traditional spring holiday in much of Europe and many countries of the world.
The first of May has been traditionally used to fight for and defend worker’s right. Demonstrations and marches are a Labour Day tradition.
This tradition is believed to have originated from the US general strike in favour of the eight-hour working day, which started on 1st May 1886 in Chicago and which ended violently with the Haymarket Affair on 4th May.
In France, in 1889, an organisation of socialist and labour parties from different countries called the Second International gathered in Paris for their first congress. They decided to organise an international demonstration on 1st May 1890 to demand an eight-hour working day and to honour the people who died in the Chicago protests. Following the success of the event, May Day was formally recognized as an annual event at the organisation’s second congress in 1891.
Again, in France, people give each other a small Lily of the Valley bouquet on the first of May. This tradition was initiated by King Charles IX of France on 1st May 1561. On that date he received a sprig of Lily of the Valley which was said to bring luck. He then decided to give some each year to the ladies of his court. At the beginning of the 20th Century, this tradition merged with May Day.
I hope there will still be some Lily of the Valley left to pick when I go back to France tomorrow! Not sure though, as it flowered earlier than usual this year and it was already out a couple of weeks ago.
Happy Worker’s Day!