International Labour Day is basically an official public holiday in many countries around the world to honour the contributions of the labourers or working class people. May 1 or May Day is marked in countries such as India, the People’s Republic of China, North Korea, Cuba, and the former Soviet Union. 1st May is also called Workers’ Day or International Workers’ Day. The theme of Labour Day 2019 is ‘Uniting Workers for Social and Economic Advancement’.
May Day in India
Labour Day has a different origin story for various countries but the main reason is commemorating a stand made against the exploitation of the labour class or the working class population.
The first celebration of May Day in India was organized in Madras (now Chennai) by the Labour Kisan Party of Hindustan on May 1, 1923. This was also the time when the Red Flag which symbolizes Labour Day was first used in India.
The day is tied to labour movements for socialist political parties and communist. Labour Day is also known as ‘Kamgar Din’ or ‘Antarrashtriya Shramik Diwas’ in Hindi, ‘Kamgar Divas’ in Marathi and ‘Uzhaipalar Naal’ in Tamil.
Interestingly, apart from being Labour Day, May 1 is also marked as ‘Maharashtra Day or Maharashtra Diwas’ and ‘Gujarat Day’ to mark the date in 1960 when the two western states attained statehood after the erstwhile Bombay state was divided into linguistic lines.
History of May Day
In Chicago, on May 4, 1886, a bomb blast killed seven police officers and four civilians. The blast was carried out as a response to the police who had killed peaceful demonstrators the day before. Eight anarchists were convicted of conspiracy after the bombing and then they had sentenced to death. The Haymarket Massacre made to the headlines across the world because of suggestions that none of those convicted eight men had thrown the bomb.
Three years later, a French socialist party chose May 1 as the International Workers’ Day to honour the labour movement and commemorate the Haymarket Massacre.