May Day

May Day

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May Day on May 1 is an ancient northern hemisphere spring festival
Spring (season)
Spring is one of the four temperate seasons, the transition period between winter and summer. Spring and "springtime" refer to the season, and broadly to ideas of rebirth, renewal and regrowth. The specific definition of the exact timing of "spring" varies according to local climate, cultures and...

 and usually a public holiday
Public holiday
A public holiday, national holiday or legal holiday is a holiday generally established by law and is usually a non-working day during the year....

; it is also a traditional spring holiday in many cultures.

Since the end of the nineteenth century, May Day has also become synonymous with International Workers' Day
International Workers' Day
International Workers' Day is a celebration of the international labour movement and left-wing movements. It commonly sees organized street demonstrations and marches by working people and their labour unions throughout most of the world. May 1 is a national holiday in more than 80 countries...

, or Labour Day
Labour Day
Labour Day or Labor Day is an annual holiday to celebrate the economic and social achievements of workers. Labour Day has its origins in the labour union movement, specifically the eight-hour day movement, which advocated eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation, and eight hours for...

, a day of political demonstrations and celebrations organised by communists, anarchists, socialists, union
Trade union
A trade union, trades union or labor union is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with...

ists, and other groups.

Traditional May Day celebrations


May Day is related to the Celt
Celt
The Celts were a diverse group of tribal societies in Iron Age and Roman-era Europe who spoke Celtic languages.The earliest archaeological culture commonly accepted as Celtic, or rather Proto-Celtic, was the central European Hallstatt culture , named for the rich grave finds in Hallstatt, Austria....

ic festival of Beltane
Beltane
Beltane or Beltaine is the anglicised spelling of Old Irish  Beltaine or Beltine , the Gaelic name for either the month of May or the festival that takes place on the first day of May.Bealtaine was historically a Gaelic festival celebrated in Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man.Bealtaine...

 and the Germanic
Germanic peoples
The Germanic peoples are an Indo-European ethno-linguistic group of Northern European origin, identified by their use of the Indo-European Germanic languages which diversified out of Proto-Germanic during the Pre-Roman Iron Age.Originating about 1800 BCE from the Corded Ware Culture on the North...

 festival of Walpurgis Night
Walpurgis Night
Walpurgis Night is a traditional spring festival on 30 April or 1 May in large parts of Central and Northern Europe. It is often celebrated with dancing and with bonfires. It is exactly six months from All Hallows' Eve.-Name:...

. May Day falls exactly half a year from November 1, another cross-quarter day which is also associated with various northern European pagan
Paganism
Paganism is a blanket term, typically used to refer to non-Abrahamic, indigenous polytheistic religious traditions....

 and neopagan
Neopaganism
Neopaganism is an umbrella term used to identify a wide variety of modern religious movements, particularly those influenced by or claiming to be derived from the various pagan beliefs of pre-modern Europe...

 festivals such as Samhain
Samhain
Samhain is a Gaelic harvest festival held on October 31–November 1. It was linked to festivals held around the same time in other Celtic cultures, and was popularised as the "Celtic New Year" from the late 19th century, following Sir John Rhys and Sir James Frazer...

. May Day marks the end of the unfarmable winter half of the year in the Northern hemisphere, and it has traditionally been an occasion for popular and often raucous celebrations.
As Europe became Christianized the pagan
Paganism
Paganism is a blanket term, typically used to refer to non-Abrahamic, indigenous polytheistic religious traditions....

 holidays lost their religious character and either changed into popular secular celebrations, as with May Day, or were merged with or replaced by new Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 holidays as with Christmas
Christmas
Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual holiday generally celebrated on December 25 by billions of people around the world. It is a Christian feast that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, liturgically closing the Advent season and initiating the season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days...

, Easter
Easter
Easter is the central feast in the Christian liturgical year. According to the Canonical gospels, Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. His resurrection is celebrated on Easter Day or Easter Sunday...

, Pentecost
Pentecost
Pentecost is a prominent feast in the calendar of Ancient Israel celebrating the giving of the Law on Sinai, and also later in the Christian liturgical year commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Christ after the Resurrection of Jesus...

 and All Saint's Day. In the twentieth century, many neopagans
Neopaganism
Neopaganism is an umbrella term used to identify a wide variety of modern religious movements, particularly those influenced by or claiming to be derived from the various pagan beliefs of pre-modern Europe...

 began reconstructing the old traditions and celebrating May Day as a pagan religious festival again.

Origins


The earliest May Day celebrations appeared in pre-Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 times, with the festival of Flora
Flora (mythology)
In Roman mythology, Flora was a goddess of flowers and the season of spring. While she was otherwise a relatively minor figure in Roman mythology, being one among several fertility goddesses, her association with the spring gave her particular importance at the coming of springtime...

, the Roman Goddess
Goddess
A goddess is a female deity. In some cultures goddesses are associated with Earth, motherhood, love, and the household. In other cultures, goddesses also rule over war, death, and destruction as well as healing....

 of flowers, and the Walpurgis Night
Walpurgis Night
Walpurgis Night is a traditional spring festival on 30 April or 1 May in large parts of Central and Northern Europe. It is often celebrated with dancing and with bonfires. It is exactly six months from All Hallows' Eve.-Name:...

 celebrations of the Germanic
Germanic peoples
The Germanic peoples are an Indo-European ethno-linguistic group of Northern European origin, identified by their use of the Indo-European Germanic languages which diversified out of Proto-Germanic during the Pre-Roman Iron Age.Originating about 1800 BCE from the Corded Ware Culture on the North...

 countries. It is also associated with the Gaelic
Gaels
The Gaels or Goidels are speakers of one of the Goidelic Celtic languages: Irish, Scottish Gaelic, and Manx. Goidelic speech originated in Ireland and subsequently spread to western and northern Scotland and the Isle of Man....

 Beltane
Beltane
Beltane or Beltaine is the anglicised spelling of Old Irish  Beltaine or Beltine , the Gaelic name for either the month of May or the festival that takes place on the first day of May.Bealtaine was historically a Gaelic festival celebrated in Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man.Bealtaine...

. Many pagan celebrations were abandoned or Christianized
Christianization
The historical phenomenon of Christianization is the conversion of individuals to Christianity or the conversion of entire peoples at once...

 during the process of conversion in Europe. A more secular version of May Day continues to be observed in Europe and America. In this form, May Day may be best known for its tradition of dancing the maypole dance and crowning of the Queen of the May. Various Neopagan
Neopaganism
Neopaganism is an umbrella term used to identify a wide variety of modern religious movements, particularly those influenced by or claiming to be derived from the various pagan beliefs of pre-modern Europe...

 groups celebrate reconstructed (to varying degrees) versions of these customs on May 1st.

The day was a traditional summer holiday in many pre-Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an pagan
Paganism
Paganism is a blanket term, typically used to refer to non-Abrahamic, indigenous polytheistic religious traditions....

 cultures. While February 1 was the first day of Spring
Spring (season)
Spring is one of the four temperate seasons, the transition period between winter and summer. Spring and "springtime" refer to the season, and broadly to ideas of rebirth, renewal and regrowth. The specific definition of the exact timing of "spring" varies according to local climate, cultures and...

, May 1 was the first day of summer
Summer
Summer is the warmest of the four temperate seasons, between spring and autumn. At the summer solstice, the days are longest and the nights are shortest, with day-length decreasing as the season progresses after the solstice...

; hence, the summer solstice
Summer solstice
The summer solstice occurs exactly when the axial tilt of a planet's semi-axis in a given hemisphere is most inclined towards the star that it orbits. Earth's maximum axial tilt to our star, the Sun, during a solstice is 23° 26'. Though the summer solstice is an instant in time, the term is also...

 on June 25 (now June 21) was Midsummer
Midsummer
Midsummer may simply refer to the period of time centered upon the summer solstice, but more often refers to specific European celebrations that accompany the actual solstice, or that take place on a day between June 21 and June 24, and the preceding evening. The exact dates vary between different...

. In the Roman Catholic tradition, May is observed as Mary's month, and in these circles May Day is usually a celebration of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In this connection, in works of art, school skits, and so forth, Mary's head will often be adorned with flowers in a May crowning. Fading in popularity since the late 20th century is the giving of "May baskets," small baskets of sweets and/or flowers, usually left anonymously on neighbours' doorsteps.

Great Britain


Roodmas
Roodmas
Roodmas , held on May 3, was the celebration of the Feast of the Cross observed in some Christian churches and rites, particularly the historical Gallican Rite of the Catholic Church. It commemorates the finding by Saint Helena of the True Cross in Jerusalem in 355...

 was a Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 Mass
Mass (liturgy)
"Mass" is one of the names by which the sacrament of the Eucharist is called in the Roman Catholic Church: others are "Eucharist", the "Lord's Supper", the "Breaking of Bread", the "Eucharistic assembly ", the "memorial of the Lord's Passion and Resurrection", the "Holy Sacrifice", the "Holy and...

 celebrated in England at midnight
Midnight
Midnight is the transition time period from one day to the next: the moment when the date changes. In the Roman time system, midnight was halfway between sunset and sunrise, varying according to the seasons....

 on May 1.

Traditional British May Day rite
Rite
A rite is an established, ceremonious, usually religious act. Rites in this sense fall into three major categories:* rites of passage, generally changing an individual's social status, such as marriage, baptism, or graduation....

s and celebrations include Morris dancing
Morris dance
Morris dance is a form of English folk dance usually accompanied by music. It is based on rhythmic stepping and the execution of choreographed figures by a group of dancers. Implements such as sticks, swords, handkerchiefs and bells may also be wielded by the dancers...

, crowning a May Queen
May Queen
The May Queen or Queen of May is a term which has two distinct but related meanings, as a mythical figure and as a holiday personification.-Festivals:...

 and celebrations involving a Maypole
Maypole
A maypole is a tall wooden pole erected as a part of various European folk festivals, particularly on May Day, or Pentecost although in some countries it is instead erected at Midsummer...

. Much of this tradition derive from the pagan Anglo-Saxon
Anglo-Saxon polytheism
Anglo-Saxon paganism, or as it has also been known, Anglo-Saxon heathenism,The religion has been referred to as "paganism" by most scholars, such as David M. Wilson and Martin Carver , but as "heathenism" by some others, like Brian Branston...

 and customs held during "Þrimilci-mōnaþ
Germanic calendar
The Germanic calendars were the regional calendars used amongst the early Germanic peoples, prior to the adoption of the Julian calendar in the Early Middle Ages....

" (the Old English name for the month of May meaning Month of Three Milkings) along with many Celtic traditions.

May Day has been a traditional day of festivities throughout the centuries. May Day is most associated with towns and villages celebrating springtime fertility
Fertility
Fertility is the natural capability of producing offsprings. As a measure, "fertility rate" is the number of children born per couple, person or population. Fertility differs from fecundity, which is defined as the potential for reproduction...

 and revelry with village fetes and community gatherings. Since May 1st is the Feast of St Philip & St James, they became the patron saints of workers. Seeding has been completed by this date and it was convenient to give farm labourers a day off. Perhaps the most significant of the traditions is the Maypole
Maypole
A maypole is a tall wooden pole erected as a part of various European folk festivals, particularly on May Day, or Pentecost although in some countries it is instead erected at Midsummer...

, around which traditional dancers circle with ribbons.

The May Day bank holiday
Bank Holiday
A bank holiday is a public holiday in the United Kingdom or a colloquialism for public holiday in Ireland. There is no automatic right to time off on these days, although the majority of the population is granted time off work or extra pay for working on these days, depending on their contract...

, on the first Monday in May, was traditionally the only one to affect the state school calendar, although new arrangements in some areas to even out the length of school terms mean that the Good Friday
Good Friday
Good Friday , is a religious holiday observed primarily by Christians commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death at Calvary. The holiday is observed during Holy Week as part of the Paschal Triduum on the Friday preceding Easter Sunday, and may coincide with the Jewish observance of...

 and Easter Monday
Easter Monday
Easter Monday is the day after Easter Sunday and is celebrated as a holiday in some largely Christian cultures, especially Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox cultures...

 bank holidays, which vary from year to year
Moveable feast
In Christianity, a moveable feast or movable feast is a holy day – a feast day or a fast day – whose date is not fixed to a particular day of the calendar year but moves in response to the date of Easter, the date of which varies according to a complex formula...

, may also fall during term time. The May Day bank holiday was created in 1978. In February 2011, the UK Parliament was reported to be considering scrapping the bank holiday associated with May Day, replacing it with a bank holiday in October, possibly co-inciding with Trafalgar Day
Trafalgar Day
Trafalgar Day is the celebration of the victory won by the Royal Navy, commanded by Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson over the combined French and Spanish fleets at the Battle of Trafalgar on 21 October 1805. The formation of the Navy League in 1894 gave added impetus to the movement to recognise...

 (celebrated on 21 October), to create a "United Kingdom Day".

May Day was abolished and its celebration banned by puritan
Puritan
The Puritans were a significant grouping of English Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries. Puritanism in this sense was founded by some Marian exiles from the clergy shortly after the accession of Elizabeth I of England in 1558, as an activist movement within the Church of England...

 parliaments during the Interregnum, but reinstated with the restoration
English Restoration
The Restoration of the English monarchy began in 1660 when the English, Scottish and Irish monarchies were all restored under Charles II after the Interregnum that followed the Wars of the Three Kingdoms...

 of Charles II
Charles II of England
Charles II was monarch of the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland.Charles II's father, King Charles I, was executed at Whitehall on 30 January 1649, at the climax of the English Civil War...

 in 1660. 1 May 1707 was the day the Act of Union
Acts of Union 1707
The Acts of Union were two Parliamentary Acts - the Union with Scotland Act passed in 1706 by the Parliament of England, and the Union with England Act passed in 1707 by the Parliament of Scotland - which put into effect the terms of the Treaty of Union that had been agreed on 22 July 1706,...

 came into effect, joining England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 and Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 to form the Kingdom of Great Britain
Kingdom of Great Britain
The former Kingdom of Great Britain, sometimes described as the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain', That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, shall upon the 1st May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of GREAT BRITAIN. was a sovereign...

.


In Oxford
Oxford
The city of Oxford is the county town of Oxfordshire, England. The city, made prominent by its medieval university, has a population of just under 165,000, with 153,900 living within the district boundary. It lies about 50 miles north-west of London. The rivers Cherwell and Thames run through...

, it is traditional for May Morning
May Morning
May Morning is an annual event in Oxford, England, on May Day . It starts early at 6am with the Magdalen College Choir singing a hymn, the Hymnus Eucharisticus, from the top of Magdalen Tower, a tradition of over 500 years. Large crowds normally gather under the tower along the High Street and on...

 revellers to gather below the Great Tower of Magdalen College
Magdalen College, Oxford
Magdalen College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England. As of 2006 the college had an estimated financial endowment of £153 million. Magdalen is currently top of the Norrington Table after over half of its 2010 finalists received first-class degrees, a record...

 at 6:00 am to listen to the college choir sing traditional madrigals as a conclusion to the previous night's celebrations. It is then thought to be traditional for some people to jump off Magdalen Bridge into the River Cherwell
River Cherwell
The River Cherwell is a river which flows through the Midlands of England. It is a major tributary of the River Thames.The general course of the River Cherwell is north to south and the 'straight-line' distance from its source to the Thames is about...

. However this has actually only been fashionable since the 1970s. In recent years, the bridge has been closed on 1 May to prevent people from jumping, as the water under the bridge is only 2 feet (61 cm) deep and jumping from the bridge has resulted in serious injury in the past. There are still people who insist on climbing the barriers and leaping into the water, causing themselves injury.

In Durham
Durham
Durham is a city in north east England. It is within the County Durham local government district, and is the county town of the larger ceremonial county...

, students of the University of Durham gather on Prebend's Bridge to see the sunrise and enjoy festivities, folk music, dancing, madrigal singing and a barbecue breakfast. This is an emerging Durham tradition, with patchy observance since 2002.

Whitstable, Kent
Whitstable
Whitstable is a seaside town in Northeast Kent, Southeast England. It is approximately north of the city of Canterbury and approximately west of the seaside town of Herne Bay. It is part of the City of Canterbury district and has a population of about 30,000.Whitstable is famous for its oysters,...

, hosts a good example of more traditional May Day festivities, where the Jack in the Green festival was revived in 1976 and continues to lead an annual procession of morris dance
Morris dance
Morris dance is a form of English folk dance usually accompanied by music. It is based on rhythmic stepping and the execution of choreographed figures by a group of dancers. Implements such as sticks, swords, handkerchiefs and bells may also be wielded by the dancers...

rs through the town on the May Bank Holiday. A separate revival occurred in Hastings in 1983 and has become a major event in the town calendar. A traditional Sweeps Festival is performed over the May bank holiday in Rochester, Kent, where the Jack In the Green
Jack in the green
A Jack in the Green is a participant in traditional English May Day parades and other May celebrations, who wears a large, foliage-covered, garland-like framework, usually pyramidal or conical in shape, which covers his body from head to foot...

 is woken at dawn on the 1st of May by Morris dancers.

At 7:15 p.m. on 1 May each year, the Kettle Bridge Clogs morris dancing side dance across Barming
Barming
Barming is a civil parish in the Maidstone District of Kent, England. It lies to the west of Maidstone, the county town, and had a population of 2234 persons . The eastern end of the parish is part of the built-up area of Maidstone, although the remainder is much more rural...

 Bridge (otherwise known as the Kettle Bridge), which spans the River Medway
River Medway
The River Medway, which is almost entirely in Kent, England, flows for from just inside the West Sussex border to the point where it enters the Thames Estuary....

 near Maidstone
Maidstone
Maidstone is the county town of Kent, England, south-east of London. The River Medway runs through the centre of the town linking Maidstone to Rochester and the Thames Estuary. Historically, the river was a source and route for much of the town's trade. Maidstone was the centre of the agricultural...

, to mark the official start of their morris dancing season.

The Maydayrun
Maydayrun
Maydayrun is an annual event in England among other countries that takes place on the first bank holiday Monday in May. It is also often referred to as "MayDay Run" or "May Day run"....

involves thousands of motorbikes taking a 55 miles (88.5 km) trip from London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

(Locksbottom
Locksbottom
Locksbottom is a place in the London Borough of Bromley in London, England.It consists of a parade of shops on Crofton Road running from the Fantail to Tugmutton Common. At one end is the Black Horse pub and the Whyte Lion pub at the other...

) to the Hastings
Hastings
Hastings is a town and borough in the county of East Sussex on the south coast of England. The town is located east of the county town of Lewes and south east of London, and has an estimated population of 86,900....

 seafront
, East Sussex
East Sussex
East Sussex is a county in South East England. It is bordered by the counties of Kent, Surrey and West Sussex, and to the south by the English Channel.-History:...

. The event has been taking place for almost 30 years now and has grown in interest from around the country, both commercially and publicly. The event is not officially organised; the police only manage the traffic, and volunteers manage the parking.

Padstow
Padstow
Padstow is a town, civil parish and fishing port on the north coast of Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. The town is situated on the west bank of the River Camel estuary approximately five miles northwest of Wadebridge, ten miles northwest of Bodmin and ten miles northeast of Newquay...

in Cornwall
Cornwall
Cornwall is a unitary authority and ceremonial county of England, within the United Kingdom. It is bordered to the north and west by the Celtic Sea, to the south by the English Channel, and to the east by the county of Devon, over the River Tamar. Cornwall has a population of , and covers an area of...

 holds its annual 'Obby-Oss
'Obby 'Oss festival
Padstow, in Cornwall, UK is internationally famous for its traditional Obby 'Oss day . Held annually on May Day , which in Cornwall, largely dates back to the Celtic Beltane, the day celebrates the coming of Summer....

' (Hobby Horse) day of festivities. This is believed to be one of the oldest fertility rites in the UK; revellers dance with the Oss through the streets of the town and even through the private gardens of the citizens, accompanied by accordion players and followers dressed in white with red or blue sashes who sing the traditional 'May Day' song. The whole town is decorated with springtime greenery, and every year thousands of onlookers attend. Prior to the 19th century distinctive May day celebrations
West Cornwall May Day Celebrations
The West Cornwall May Day celebrations are an example of folk practices found in the western part of Cornwall, United Kingdom, associated with the coming of spring. The celebration of May Day is a common motif throughout Europe and beyond. In Cornwall there are a number of notable examples of this...

 were widespread throughout West Cornwall , and are being revived in St. Ives
St Ives, Cornwall
St Ives is a seaside town, civil parish and port in Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. The town lies north of Penzance and west of Camborne on the coast of the Celtic Sea. In former times it was commercially dependent on fishing. The decline in fishing, however, caused a shift in commercial...

and Penzance
Penzance
Penzance is a town, civil parish, and port in Cornwall, England, in the United Kingdom. It is the most westerly major town in Cornwall and is approximately 75 miles west of Plymouth and 300 miles west-southwest of London...

.

Kingsand
Kingsand
Kingsand and Cawsand are twin villages in southeast Cornwall, United Kingdom. The villages are situated on the Rame Peninsula and in the parish of Maker-with-Rame....

, Cawsand
Cawsand
Cawsand and Kingsand are twin villages in southeast Cornwall, United Kingdom. The village is situated on the Rame Peninsula and is in the parish of Maker-with-Rame....

and Millbrook
Millbrook, Cornwall
Millbrook is a civil parish and village in southeast Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. The village is situated on the Rame Peninsula four miles south of Saltash....

in Cornwall celebrate Flower Boat Ritual on the May Day bank holiday. A model of the ship The Black Prince
The Black Prince
-Personal nicknames:* Edward, the Black Prince, English prince in the Middle Ages* Naresuan, King of Siam* Junio Valerio Borghese, Italian noble and military leader* Kostas Davourlis, Greek footballer* Peter Jackson , 19th century bare-knuckle boxer...

 is covered in flowers and is taken in procession from the Quay at Millbrook to the beach at Cawsand where it is cast adrift. The houses in the villages are decorated with flowers and people traditionally wear red and white clothes. There are further celebrations in Cawsand Square with Morris dancing and May pole dancing.

In St Andrews
University of St Andrews
The University of St Andrews, informally referred to as "St Andrews", is the oldest university in Scotland and the third oldest in the English-speaking world after Oxford and Cambridge. The university is situated in the town of St Andrews, Fife, on the east coast of Scotland. It was founded between...

, some of the students gather on the beach late on April 30 and run into the North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

 at sunrise on May Day, occasionally naked. This is accompanied by torchlit processions and much elated celebration.

Both Edinburgh
Edinburgh
Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, the second largest city in Scotland, and the eighth most populous in the United Kingdom. The City of Edinburgh Council governs one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas. The council area includes urban Edinburgh and a rural area...

and Glasgow
Glasgow
Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and third most populous in the United Kingdom. The city is situated on the River Clyde in the country's west central lowlands...

organize Mayday festivals and rallies. In Edinburgh
Edinburgh
Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, the second largest city in Scotland, and the eighth most populous in the United Kingdom. The City of Edinburgh Council governs one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas. The council area includes urban Edinburgh and a rural area...

, the Beltane Fire Festival
Beltane Fire Festival
Beltane Fire Festival is an annual participatory arts event and ritual drama, held on April 30 on Calton Hill in Edinburgh.-Historical background:...

 is held on the evening of May eve and into the early hours of May Day on the city's Calton Hill. An older Edinburgh tradition has it that young women who climb Arthur's Seat
Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh
Arthur's Seat is the main peak of the group of hills which form most of Holyrood Park, described by Robert Louis Stevenson as "a hill for magnitude, a mountain in virtue of its bold design". It is situated in the centre of the city of Edinburgh, about a mile to the east of Edinburgh Castle...

 and wash their faces in the morning dew will have lifelong beauty.

Ireland


May Day has been celebrated in Ireland since pagan times as the feast of Bealtaine and in latter times as Mary's day. Traditionally, bonfires were lit to mark the coming of summer and to banish the long nights of winter. Officially Irish May Day bank holiday is now on the first Monday in May. In modern times May Day is associated with anti-government rallies which are held every year on this date. Old traditions such as bonfires are no longer held.

France


On May 1, 1561, King Charles IX of France
Charles IX of France
Charles IX was King of France, ruling from 1560 until his death. His reign was dominated by the Wars of Religion. He is best known as king at the time of the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre.-Childhood:...

 received a lily of the valley
Lily of the Valley
Convallaria majalis , commonly known as the lily-of-the-valley, is a poisonous woodland flowering plant native throughout the cool temperate Northern Hemisphere in Asia and Europe....

 as a lucky charm. He decided to offer a lily of the valley
Lily of the Valley
Convallaria majalis , commonly known as the lily-of-the-valley, is a poisonous woodland flowering plant native throughout the cool temperate Northern Hemisphere in Asia and Europe....

 each year to the ladies of the court. At the beginning of the 20th century, it became custom to give a sprig of lily of the valley, a symbol of springtime, on May 1. The government permits individuals and workers' organisations to sell them tax-free. It is also traditional for the lady receiving the sprig of lily of the valley to give a kiss in return. Nowadays, people may present loved ones either with bunches of lily of the valley
Lily of the Valley
Convallaria majalis , commonly known as the lily-of-the-valley, is a poisonous woodland flowering plant native throughout the cool temperate Northern Hemisphere in Asia and Europe....

 or dog rose flowers.

Germany


In rural regions of Germany, especially the Harz
Harz
The Harz is the highest mountain range in northern Germany and its rugged terrain extends across parts of Lower Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia. The name Harz derives from the Middle High German word Hardt or Hart , latinized as Hercynia. The legendary Brocken is the highest summit in the Harz...

 Mountains, Walpurgisnacht celebrations of pagan origin are traditionally held on the night before May Day, including bonfire
Bonfire
A bonfire is a controlled outdoor fire used for informal disposal of burnable waste material or as part of a celebration. Celebratory bonfires are typically designed to burn quickly and may be very large...

s and the wrapping of a Maibaum (maypole
Maypole
A maypole is a tall wooden pole erected as a part of various European folk festivals, particularly on May Day, or Pentecost although in some countries it is instead erected at Midsummer...

). Young people use this opportunity to party, while the day itself is used by many families to get some fresh air. Motto: "Tanz in den Mai!" ("Dance into May!"). In the Rhineland
Rhineland
Historically, the Rhinelands refers to a loosely-defined region embracing the land on either bank of the River Rhine in central Europe....

, May 1 is also celebrated by the delivery of a maypole, a tree covered in streamers to the house of a girl the night before. The tree is typically from a love interest, though a tree wrapped only in white streamers is a sign of dislike. Females usually place roses or rice in form of a heart at the house of their beloved one. It is common to stick the heart to a window or place it in front of the doormat.
On leap years
Leap Years
Leap Years is a 2001 drama television series that aired on the Showtime cable network. The show was created by Ron Cowen and Daniel Lipman, who had created the American version of the series Queer as Folk. It followed a group of friends in New York City...

, it is the responsibility of the females to place the maypole, though the males are still allowed and encouraged to do so.
All the action is usually done secretly and it is an individual's choice whether to give a hint of their identity or stay anonymous.

Finland


Celebrations among the younger generations take place on May Day Eve, see Walpurgis Night in Finland), most prominent being the afternoon 'crowning' of statues in towns around the country with a student cap
Student cap
In various European countries, student caps of different types are or have been worn, either as a marker of a common identity, as is the case in the Nordic countries, or to identify the bearer as member of a smaller corporation within the larger group of students, as is the case with the caps worn...

.

May Day is known as Vappu, from the Swedish term. This is a public holiday that is the only carnival-style street festivity in the country. People young and old, particularly students, party outside, picnic and wear caps or other decorative clothing.

Sweden


The more traditional festivities have moved to the day before, "Last of April" ("Sista april") or "Walpurgis nacht" ("Valborgsmässoafton").

Pacific (USA)


In Hawaii
Hawaii
Hawaii is the newest of the 50 U.S. states , and is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japan, and northeast of...

, May Day is also known as Lei
Lei (Hawaii)
Lei is a Hawaiian word for a garland or wreath. More loosely defined, a lei is any series of objects strung together with the intent to be worn. The most popular concept of a lei in Hawaiian culture is a wreath of flowers draped around the neck presented upon arriving or leaving as a symbol of...

 Day, and is normally set aside as a day to celebrate island culture in general and native Hawaiian culture in particular. Invented by a poet and a local newspaper columnist in the 1920s, it has since been adopted by state and local government as well as the residents, and has taken on the sense of a general spring celebration. The first Lei Day was proposed in 1927 in Honolulu. Leonard "Red" and Ruth Hawk composed "May Day is Lei Day in Hawai'i," the traditional holiday song. Originally it was a contemporary fox trot, later rearranged as the Hawaiian hula
Hula
Hula is a dance form accompanied by chant or song . It was developed in the Hawaiian Islands by the Polynesians who originally settled there. The hula dramatizes or portrays the words of the oli or mele in a visual dance form....

 song performed today.

United States of America


May Day was also celebrated by some early European settlers of the American
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

 continent. In some parts of the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, May Baskets are made. These are small baskets usually filled with flowers or treats and left at someone's doorstep. The giver would ring the bell and run away. The person receiving the basket would try to catch the fleeing giver. If they caught the person, a kiss was to be exchanged.

Modern May Day ceremonies in the U.S. vary greatly from region to region and many unite both the holiday's "Green Root" (pagan) and "Red Root" (labor) traditions. Among the largest is the May Day Parade and Pageant
Procession
A procession is an organized body of people advancing in a formal or ceremonial manner.-Procession elements:...

 created by In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre, an event that has happened every year since 1975 in Minneapolis and now attracts some 35,000 people.

May 1 is also recognized in the U.S. as Law Day.

International Workers' Day



May Day can refer to various labour celebrations conducted on May 1 that commemorate the fight for the eight hour day. May Day in this regard is called International Workers' Day
International Workers' Day
International Workers' Day is a celebration of the international labour movement and left-wing movements. It commonly sees organized street demonstrations and marches by working people and their labour unions throughout most of the world. May 1 is a national holiday in more than 80 countries...

, or Labour Day
Labour Day
Labour Day or Labor Day is an annual holiday to celebrate the economic and social achievements of workers. Labour Day has its origins in the labour union movement, specifically the eight-hour day movement, which advocated eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation, and eight hours for...

. The idea for a "workers' holiday" began in Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 in 1856; after a stonemason's victory in securing improved employee rights, April 22nd was declared "Eight-Hour Day", a public holiday. With the idea having spread around the world, the choice of May 1st became a commemoration by the socialist Second International
Second International
The Second International , the original Socialist International, was an organization of socialist and labour parties formed in Paris on July 14, 1889. At the Paris meeting delegations from 20 countries participated...

 for the people involved in the 1886 Haymarket affair
Haymarket affair
The Haymarket affair was a demonstration and unrest that took place on Tuesday May 4, 1886, at the Haymarket Square in Chicago. It began as a rally in support of striking workers. An unknown person threw a dynamite bomb at police as they dispersed the public meeting...

.

United States of America


The Haymarket affair occurred during the course of a three-day general strike
General strike
A general strike is a strike action by a critical mass of the labour force in a city, region, or country. While a general strike can be for political goals, economic goals, or both, it tends to gain its momentum from the ideological or class sympathies of the participants...

 in Chicago, Illinois, United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 that involved common laborers, artisans, merchants, and immigrants. Following an incident in which police opened fire and killed four strikers at the McCormick Harvesting Machine Co.
Cyrus McCormick
Cyrus Hall McCormick, Sr. was an American inventor and founder of the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company, which became part of International Harvester Company in 1902.He and many members of the McCormick family became prominent Chicagoans....

 plant, a rally was called for the following day at Haymarket Square. Towards the end of the rally, as police moved in to disperse the event and opened fire on the unarmed crowd on the plea that an unknown assailant threw a bomb into the crowd of police. The bomb and resulting police riot
Police riot
A police riot is a confrontation between police and civilians. The term can also describe a riot by civilians caused or instigated by police...

 left at least a dozen people dead, including one policeman. A sensational show trial
Show trial
The term show trial is a pejorative description of a type of highly public trial in which there is a strong connotation that the judicial authorities have already determined the guilt of the defendant. The actual trial has as its only goal to present the accusation and the verdict to the public as...

 ensued in which eight defendants were openly tried for their political beliefs, and not necessarily for any involvement in the bombing. The trial led to the eventual public hanging
Public Execution
Public Execution is a Mouse and the Traps retrospective album that has been released in both LP and CD formats. The LP has an unusually large number of tracks , while the CD includes 4 bonus tracks and catalogues almost all of the released music by Mouse and the Traps and their associated bands: ...

 of four anarchists. The Haymarket incident was a source of outrage from people around the globe. In the following years, memory of the "Haymarket martyrs" was remembered with various May Day job actions and demonstrations.

May Day has become an international celebration of the social and economic achievements of the labour movement
Labour movement
The term labour movement or labor movement is a broad term for the development of a collective organization of working people, to campaign in their own interest for better treatment from their employers and governments, in particular through the implementation of specific laws governing labour...

. Although the commemoration of May Day as International Workers' Day received its inspiration from the United States, the U.S. Congress designated May 1 as Loyalty Day
Loyalty Day
Loyalty Day is observed on May 1 in the United States. It is a day set aside for the reaffirmation of loyalty to the United States and for the recognition of the heritage of American freedom.- History :...

 in 1958 due to the day's perceived appropriation by the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

. Alternatively, Labor Day
Labor Day
Labor Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the first Monday in September that celebrates the economic and social contributions of workers.-History:...

 traditionally occurs on the first Monday in September in the United States. People often use May Day as a day for political protest, such as the million people who demonstrated against far-right candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen
Jean-Marie Le Pen
Jean-Marie Le Pen is a French far right-wing and nationalist politician who is founder and former president of the Front National party. Le Pen has run for the French presidency five times, most notably in 2002, when in a surprise upset he came second, polling more votes in the first round than...

 in France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 in 2002, or as a day for protest against government actions, such as rallies in support of undocumented workers across the United States.

Bangladesh


Bangladesh
Bangladesh
Bangladesh , officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh is a sovereign state located in South Asia. It is bordered by India on all sides except for a small border with Burma to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south...

 celebrates May Day as International Workers' Day
International Workers' Day
International Workers' Day is a celebration of the international labour movement and left-wing movements. It commonly sees organized street demonstrations and marches by working people and their labour unions throughout most of the world. May 1 is a national holiday in more than 80 countries...

. It is a public holiday.

Turkey


Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 celebrates May Day as Workers' Day in Taksim Square in İstanbul
Istanbul
Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

 and other squares in many other cities throughout the country. It is a national holiday
Public holidays in Turkey
The official holidays in Turkey are established by the Act 2429 of March 19, 1981 that replaced the Act 2739 of May 27, 1935. These holidays can be grouped in national religious holidays.Public HolidaysDateEnglish NameLocal NameRemarksJanuary 1...

.

China


The People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

celebrates International Workers' Day on May 1 and is designated as a public holiday. In Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...

, the holiday is referred to as Labour Day.

Syria


Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

celebrates Labor Day on May 1 and has designated this day (or the closest working day) a national holiday.

Taiwan


The Republic of China (Taiwan) celebrates Labor Day on May 1 and has designated this day (or the closest working day) a public holiday.

India


May 1 is celebrated as Maharashtra Day
Maharashtra Day
Maharashtra Day on May 1 is celebrated in Maharashtra, a state on western coast of India. Maharashtra attained statehood on 1st of May, 1960 when the then state Bombay state was divided into two states, Maharashtra and Gujarat on the basis of different languages, Marathi and Gujarati, under the...

 in Maharashtra
Maharashtra
Maharashtra is a state located in India. It is the second most populous after Uttar Pradesh and third largest state by area in India...

 and Gujarat Day in Gujarat, two states on the western coast of India. Both attained statehood on the 1st of May 1960 when the State of Bombay was divided in two under the Saurashtra re-organization act. The division was made on the basis of different languages; Marathi and Gujarati. Maharashtra retained the old capital Bombay, later renamed Mumbai
Mumbai
Mumbai , formerly known as Bombay in English, is the capital of the Indian state of Maharashtra. It is the most populous city in India, and the fourth most populous city in the world, with a total metropolitan area population of approximately 20.5 million...

. The rest of India celebrates May Day as International Workers' Day
International Workers' Day
International Workers' Day is a celebration of the international labour movement and left-wing movements. It commonly sees organized street demonstrations and marches by working people and their labour unions throughout most of the world. May 1 is a national holiday in more than 80 countries...

: it is a public holiday in India.

Europe



Portugal


Labor Day in Portugal.

In Portugal, it has only been possible to freely celebrate May Day since May 1974 (the year of the revolution of April 25) when it became a holiday. During the dictatorship of the Estado Novo, attempts to celebrate this day were broken up by police. The World Day of Workers is now celebrated throughout the country, especially with demonstrations, rallies and celebrations promoted by the Inter-Union Federation CGT (General Confederation of Portuguese Workers) in the main cities of Lisbon
Lisbon
Lisbon is the capital city and largest city of Portugal with a population of 545,245 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Lisbon extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of 3 million on an area of , making it the 9th most populous urban...

 and Porto
Porto
Porto , also known as Oporto in English, is the second largest city in Portugal and one of the major urban areas in the Iberian Peninsula. Its administrative limits include a population of 237,559 inhabitants distributed within 15 civil parishes...

, as well as by the trade union confederation UGT (General Workers' Union). In the Algarve, it is customary to socialise and picnics are organized. Significantly, since the government of José Sócrates
José Sócrates
José Sócrates Carvalho Pinto de Sousa, GCIH , commonly known by José Sócrates , is a Portuguese politician who was the Prime Minister of Portugal from 12 March 2005 to 21 June 2011....

has approved a new law allowing shops to open on Sundays, Portuguese workers again have forced to work on May 1, Sundays and other holidays, including Easter Sunday.

Bulgaria


May Day is an official holiday in Bulgaria. It was declared a public holiday in 1939.

Finland


Political organizations, including both right and left wing parties, arrange marches, speeches and such public events.

Norway


Mayday is denoted "First of May" ("Første mai"in Norwegian) and has been a public holiday in Norway since 1947. In the beginning, it was mostly the Social Democratic Party and the Labour Union (LO) that celebrated this day. Nowadays, parties, unions and other leftist organizations mark the day. Ususally one demonstration is held in every city and town, with all the different organizations participating.

Sweden


Mayday is denoted "First of May" ("Första maj" in Swedish) and has been a public holiday in Sweden since 1939. The main events on Mayday are political demonstrations by labour organisations and political parties historically associated with the working class movement.

Russian Federation


May Day (Russian: День труда, Den truda (Labor Day), also Праздник весны и труда, Prazdnik vesny i truda(Holiday of spring and labor) in ex-USSR) is an official holiday in Russia

Brazil


In Brazil, the date has been celebrated since 1895 and became a national holiday in September 1925 by a decree of President Arthur Bernardes. Until the beginning of President Vargas' era (1930–1945) colleges of certain types of factory workers were quite common, though not very strong given the lack of industrialization. This movement was at first characterized by the influence of anarchism and later communism, but with the coming to power of Getulio Varga, it gradually dissolved and urban workers began to be influenced by what became known as Labour.

Until then, Labor Day was considered by those earlier movements (anarchists and communists) as a time to protest and criticise the socio-economic structures of the country. Vargas subtly turned a day intended to celebrate the worker into Labor Day. This change, apparently superficial, profoundly altered the worker's annual activities on this day. Until then marked by pickets and demonstrations, Labor Day is now celebrated with festivals, parades and celebrations. This change has even been assimilated by the trade union movement. Traditionally the Union Force (an organization that brings together trade unions from different areas, linked to political parties such as PDT) organises concerts with big names in popular music and sweepstakes of home ownership.

It has become customary on Labor Day in Brazil for governments to announce the annual increase in the minimum wage. Another historically very important aspect of the day was the creation of the Consolidation of Labour Laws (CLT). This was created on May 1, 1943 and signed by President Getúlio Vargas during the Estado Novo, unifying all labor laws then existing in Brazil. It became the main piece of legislation relating to Brazilian labor law.

External links