May Day

The celebration of International Workers’ Day, also known as May Day, on the first day of May, dates back to 1889, when an international federation of socialist parties and trade unions designated this day to defend the rights of workers.

It was chosen to commemorate the Haymarket Riot which took place in Chicago, on May 3rd 1886, during a strike which aimed to obtain the eight-hour working day. When the police arrived to protect strikebreakers, a bomb exploded and the police responded with gunfire. About fifteen people were killed, including seven police officers, and approximately one hundred people were injured. The tragedy itself, as well as the events that followed, in which several men were falsely accused of murder, turned the Haymarket Riot into one of the most important events in the history of the labour movement in the United States.

While International Workers’ Day is still celebrated on May 1st all over the world, this is not the case in the United States. Not liking the socialist origin of May Day, in 1894, US President Grover Cleveland designated the first Monday in September as Labour Day for the nation to pay tribute to the American Worker.