Friday, 1 May 2009

Labour Day 2009.

Every 1st of May is designated Labour Day. What is the significance of this day? All I know is that it is an annual public holiday which means no need to go to school, no need to go to work. Can slack off. According to Wiki, "Labour Day or Labor Day is an annual holiday celebrated all over the world that resulted from the labour union movement, to celebrate the economic and social achievements of workers. The majority of countries celebrate Labour Day on May 1st, and it is popularly known as May Day and International Workers' Day. The celebration of Labour Day has its origins in the Eight-hour day movement, which advocated eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation, and eight hours for rest."
So what is Eight-hour day movement? Again, to directly quote from Wiki, "The eight-hour day movement or 40-hour week movement, also known as the short-time movement, had its origins in the Industrial Revolution in Britain, where industrial production in large factories transformed working life and imposed long hours and poor working conditions. With working conditions unregulated, the health, welfare and morale of working people suffered. The exploitation of child labour was common. The working day could range from 10 to 16 hours for six days a week. Robert Owen had raised the demand for a ten-hour day in 1810, and instituted it in his socialist enterprise at New Lanark. By 1817 he had formulated the goal of the eight-hour day and coined the slogan Eight hours labour, Eight hours recreation, Eight hours rest." Robert Owen, a Welsh (14 May 1771–17 Nov 1858) was a social reformer and one of the founders of socialism and the cooperative movement.
As a celebration of world labor movement, International Worker Days "commonly sees organized street demonstrations and street marches by millions of working people and their labour unions throughout most of the countries of the world" to quote from Wiki.
Although synonymous with International Worker Days or Labour Day, an interesting fact is that there is a different origin for May Day as well why May 1st. According to Wiki, "As a day of celebration the holiday has ancient origins, and it can relate to many customs that have survived into modern times. Many of these customs are due to May Day being a cross-quarter day, meaning that in the Northern Hemisphere it falls approximately halfway between the spring equinox and summer solstice. May Day marks the end of the half of the year in the Northern hemisphere, and it has traditionally been an occasion for popular and often raucous celebrations, regardless of the locally prevalent political or religious establishment. As Europe became Christianized the pagan holidays lost their religious character and either changed into popular secular celebrations, as with May Day, or were replaced by new Christian holidays as with Christmas, Easter, and All Saint's Day. In the twentieth century, many neopagans began reconstructing the old traditions and celebrating May Day as a pagan religious festival again." Interesting...

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