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.

Talking about books

As we celebrate World Book Day, here is some vocabulary which may be used when talking about books.

Nowadays many people prefer to read an e-book (libro electrónico) rather than a paperback (libro de bolsillo) or a hardback (libro de tapa dura).

When you are in a bookshop (librería) or a library (biblioteca) maybe you will flick through (hojear) the pages of the book you would like to buy or take out. You might have already read a good review (buena crítica) or maybe you’re a big reader (gran lector/a) who is always engrossed in (absorto en) a book and who reads books from cover to cover (de principio a fin).

If a book is very good, we say it is a page-turner (libro que no se puede dejar)and if, on the contrary, it is boring or difficult to read, we say it is heavy going (pesado).

Easter Egg Roll

The Easter Egg Roll is one of the White House’s biggest annual events.

It is held on Easter Monday and is attended by children and parents who acquire their free tickets via an online lottery system. In 2018 around 30,000 guests attended.

However, the history of this seemingly harmless celebration, in which children roll eggs down the South Lawn with a wooden spoon, has had its share of controversy.

Back in the 1870s, when the Easter Egg Roll started, it was originally celebrated at the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. But this soon came under criticism, as some spoilsports claimed that the Easter Egg Roll made a mess of the grass. Opposition was so great that a law banning the Roll was passed in 1876.

The following year it was too rainy to celebrate the Roll, but in 1878 the children who went to the Capitol with their eggs, were turned away by the police. They apparently headed for the White House where the gates were opened and the tradition of the Easter Egg Roll at the White House began.

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April Fool’s Day vs Día de los Santos Inocentes

Today is April Fool’s Day in the UK, a tradition celebrated in many Western countries like France (Poisson d’avril) by carrying out pranks or practical jokes. In Spain and Latin America, the same custom is celebrated on 28th December, Día de los Santos Inocentes (Holy Innocents’ Day). The true origin of these celebrations is unknown.

Although Holy Innocents’ Day was originally a commemoration of King’s Herod’s slaughter of infants, during the Middle Ages, the celebration became an important part of the «Feast of Fools», which, in turn, recalled the Roman festivity of Saturnalia. During these mid-December festivities, slaves became masters, men dressed as women and churches were used for merry-making. Part of these celebrations included the election of a «boy bishop» whose authority would last from, 6th December, the feast of Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of children, until Holy Innocents’ Day.

Even though, April Fool’s Day has been celebrated for centuries in different European countries, its origin is unknown. The most popular theory is that the New Year was traditionally celebrated at the beginning of spring, on March 25th. When France adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1582, the celebration of New Year’s Day was changed to January 1st. However, many people questioned this change or were simply unaware of it and continued to celebrate the New Year in spring. They were soon to be called «fools» and become the object of ridicule.