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Labor Day - what are we celebrating?

There are a lot of holidays. We don’t even know the name of some, others came to us from neighboring (or even non-neighboring) countries. But there are those dates that are marked in red in the calendar and which are considered days off. For example, Labor Day is celebrated in many countries. What does this holiday mean? And how did it come about?

How it all began?

If you try to go deeper into history, you can be in Ancient Rome, where May 1 was the day of the goddess Maya, who was the patroness of the harvest, fertility. In honor of such a significant event, the pagans of that time arranged ritual dances, sang songs and performed round dances.

Spring Festival

It was believed that all this will help make the harvest rich, improve the fruits and shoots. But since the holiday was considered pagan, the Orthodox Church (and she completely excluded the pagan faith) tried to oust it in every possible way, offering people to celebrate other holidays, such as Holy Easter or Sunday of Christ (they were celebrated around the same time).Conceived almost succeeded, the honor of the goddess of fertility and labor was forgotten, but not quite and not forever.

Modern stage

The history of the celebration of Labor Day at some point has become more politically motivated. Thus, in the 19th century, in some countries there existed peculiar labor movements, whose members acted and fought to improve working conditions.

For example, ordinary workers from Australia on April 21, 1856, called on the authorities to introduce an eight-hour working day. It’s not for nothing that it’s just such a long working day that the Australians have achieved and therefore began to celebrate the labor holiday every year.

The next stage is 1986. It was this year that working Americans from Chicago, who opposed the existing power and its harsh regimes, went on strike and demanded better working conditions, which at that time were simply terrible. But the rally was crushed, with the result that several people died, which was also a decisive moment.

This is not a holiday for everyone.

In honor of these people who gave their lives in the struggle for justice, in 1889, already in France, the Paris Congress decided to declare May 1, 1990, the day of solidarity of the workers of the whole world.

It was also suggested that a number of demonstrations should be held on this day, during which the common people spoke in favor of reducing the working day to 8 hours, as well as for improving the working conditions. And when these requirements were met, in France, as in Australia, it was decided to make such a holiday annual, because this date was a kind of turning point.

Russian variant

In Russia, such a holiday as Labor Day has also been known for quite some time. For the first time it was noted in the Russian Empire that once existed. In 1890, several strikes of workers took place in Warsaw, in which about 10,000 people of the working class took part. And such strikes took place almost every year, but, in fact, practically did not lead to anything.

But in 1897 the demonstrations began to be more of a political nature and expressed the discontent of the people with the existing power. For example, in 1901 a rally was held in several cities (Tbilisi, Gomel, Kharkov, and St. Petersburg) under slogans such as "Long live the Republic" and "Down with autocracy".

And in 1912-1914 in demonstrations accompanied by strikes, about 400,000 people took part in the rally, advocating for democracy and justice.


The turning point of the celebration of May 1 was the October Revolution of 1917.It was after her holiday declared official. On this day, columns marched across large areas of the country, and music of a political nature sounded everywhere. The authorities, with the help of loudspeakers, broadcast that they supported all the working people of the capitalist countries and expressed their solidarity.

Later there was a tradition on the second day after the celebration to organize so-called Mayvki, which meant meetings with relatives and friends, walks in the parks and trips to nature. But initially such sorties were supposed by secret meetings of workers, on which they discussed plans for their further actions (often such meetings were dispersed by representatives of law enforcement bodies).

The last time the holiday was held in this format on May 1, 1990. Then the official May Day demonstration was held. And next year, on the same day, the Moscow Federation of Trade Unions and the Association of Free Trade Unions jointly organized a rally against price increases. By the way, at this event, Gorbachev was present at the podium.

Modern interpretation

In 1991, the name of the holiday was changed.Now Russia has celebrated the Day of Spring and Labor, which implied the peaceful nature of the celebration and the absence of meetings. In 1993, by the way, a peaceful demonstration was completely dispersed, this happened for the first time in 76 years.

And since then, the date has regained its original pagan coloring, having lost its political context. And yet, in 2013, hundreds of thousands of working people, dissatisfied with working conditions and wages, took to the streets of some Russian cities again. But nothing criminal then happened.

How to celebrate?

According to the Labor Code of the Russian Federation, May 1 is a non-working day. As for the current 2014, the weekend will be even longer, since the country that has served on January 4 will rest on May 2. This means that there will be more than enough time to celebrate (besides, April 30 is a shorter working day).

How to celebrate this holiday?

  • The simplest and most pleasant option is to follow the old tradition and arrange a so-called Mayvka, having recovered, for example, with tents in the nature or on a camp site with family, relatives or friends.
  • If you plan to “start out” in the city first, then by all means head to its center. There, in any case, there will be something interesting, for example, some concert.
  • Want to remember the old days? Take part in a demonstration, in some cities they are still being held.
  • And you can just relax, especially this year, because the total duration of rest will be as much as 4 days! Spend time for yourself and family, relax and enjoy the beautiful spring weather.

Great and interesting holidays to you!

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