Why do we Celebrate May Day?

Gwen Clark, Writer

Everyone knows about the holiday of May Day, but most people have no idea what it signifies. The holiday is celebrated on May 1 each year. There are two meanings behind the holiday.

May Day is actually a celebration of season change, as well as a day set aside to celebrate workers’ rights. The holiday began during ancient festivals celebrated mostly in the Northern Hemisphere, and marked the beginning of the summer season.

Since the 1800’s, the holiday has been on the same day as International Workers’ Day. For certain countries, May Day is the equivalent of America’s Labor Day, making the holiday a combined celebration of both season change and workers’ rights.

On May 1 in 1886, thousands of United States workers were involved in a nationwide strike, demanding a shorter workday and labor rights. The marches continued for three days. At this time, a normal workday was 10-16 hours. The protests helped shorten the hours of a regular workday, resulting in our work hours today. In memory of these events, the International Socialist Conference named the day as an international holiday for labor.

Many people know of the holiday, but it is important to understand how it shaped our country. That’s why the holiday is celebrated not only to appreciate the season change, but to remember the people who fought for change as well.