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Why May day on the first of May

First Event

At the Haymarket Massacre in Chicago in 1886 the Chicago police fired on workers during a general strike for the eight hour day, killing several demonstrators and resulting in the deaths of several police officers. This was due to friendly fire.


In 1889 in Paris, at the centennial of the French Revolution the first congress was held of a French organization of socialist and labour parties (called International). Upon initiative of Raymond Lavigne a call was made for international demonstrations on the 1890 anniversary of the Chicago protests. These were so successful that May Day was formally recognized as an annual event at the International's second congress in 1891.

May Day Riots

From 1891 onwards the first of May have been known as turbulent days. Not every year the riots were that serious. The riots are all over the world except for United States and Canada.


It is remarkable that May Day started more or less in the United States and went all over the world except for United States and Canada it self. Is is even more remarkable to realize that the Labor Day in the United States is on the first Monday in September. However the first one was already in 1882 and made a formal national holiday in 1894.

Please Note

May day have no relation with mayday (the distress signal). This word is derived from the French "m'aider" which means "help me".

May 2010

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