May Day / День труда: A Day of Solidarity

 

 

Images Today is May 1st, which is a big deal in a number of cultures and countries for various reasons. Foremost is the coming of Spring, as celebrated by the Romans at the Festival of Flora, the Celts at Beltane, and the good old Germans at Walpurgisnacht (I once went to a memorable Walpurgisnacht celebration in Bristol, England, and haven’t been able to face sweet dessert wine since).  

 

In the “Former Socialist” or “New Capitalist” world, May Day is associated with solidarity of the working classes, and in the USSR, May 1st used to be known as "Day of Solidarity of the Workers."  What the Russians won’t tell you, thoughWikipedia and I will, is that this was actually dreamed up by…the Australians.  Go and figure.   Which is interesting, since May 1st for them doesn’t designate the coming of Spring at all, but nevertheless, in 1856, they came up with the idea of a universal holiday for the working classes.  

On the other side of the world on May 1, 1886 in Chicago, at a three-day-strike at a factory got out of hand and police fired on the crowd of striking workers, resulting in twelve deaths and world-wide outrage and subsequent sympathy for the plight of the working people.  May 1st became a day of solidarity with the cause of workers’ rights, and gained a solid foothold in Europe.  Russian workers first held demonstrations in 1891 in St. Petersburg, and after the Russian Revolution of 1917, the holiday was firmly entrenched as the national day of celebration of the workers’ state, with massive parades through the streets of major cities.

Prideguide2010jpg Northampton celebrates the beginning of May too... in its own particular way, which also has to do with solidarity.  This is known simply as "Pride" and it was getting going this evening on main street, 

 

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