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Labor Day Celebrations

Global Immersions - Friday, August 31, 2012

This Monday Americans will celebrate Labor Day, signifying the end of the summer and the beginning of the fall season. In most of the world the holiday is known as “International Workers Day” or “May Day” and is customarily celebrated on May 1, as opposed to the first Monday in September. The holiday was established to commemorate the achievements of workers and was championed by American labor unions that were fighting to institutionalize the eight-hour workday. 

On May 1, 1886, 35,000 workers in Chicago boycotted from their jobs until they were given “eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation, and eight hours for rest”. On the third day an unidentified person threw a bomb in the demonstrators leading to a gunfight where eight police officers and an undetermined amount of civilians were killed. 

Demonstrations against this violence and the rights of workers spread to France, the Netherlands and other countries that were struggling to regulate the workday after the successes of the industrial revolution. “International Workers Day” “May Day” or “Labor Day” is now celebrated in more than 80 countries and is an unofficial holiday in many other countries worldwide.  

Labor Day is celebrated on the first Monday in September only in America and Canada – a date shared due to the close ties between American and Canadian labor unions and businesses when Grover Cleveland first made Labor Day a national holiday in 1894. He chose September, rather than May, for the celebration because he didn’t want to commemorate the violent riots in Chicago in 1886. 

Today, Workers Day is celebrated similarly all over the world, with parades, patriotism, family and food. Most businesses, government buildings and offices are closed, and workers are often given a paid holiday.

Because Labor Day commemorates so many social movements and is celebrated at different times all over the world, this is a great opportunity to ask your visitor how they celebrate workers in their home country! Labor Day originated in America but its message has spread globally, so as you enjoy the last days of summer and the three day weekend, make sure to share the holiday with your visitor!  Don’t forget to email Global Immersions your photos so we can put them in our photo gallery! 

Sources: Wikipedia.com 


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