May Day has its origins thousands of years back to the days when it was celebrated as the Festival of Flora or the Roman goddess of flowers. Bonfires were lit to signify the end of winter and the coming of summer. As Christianity spread, many pagan celebrations such as this morphed into other religious holidays such as Easter, Christmas etc. May became known as the Month of Mary and all over the world, statues of Mary are adorned with crowns of flowers, offerings of fruits are made. More secular celebrations involved crowning the Queen of the May and Maypole dancing.
In Belize, it is Labour Day and is usually incorporated into a long weekend of “Agric” where all produce that is grown and animals that are reared are featured as part education/part celebration. There are 80 countries around the world engaging in similar celebrations on this day borne out of tragedy. In the late 19th Century, tensions rose between workers and capitalists resulting in the May Riots of 1894. In response, socialist organisations all over the world formed labour unions in an effort to create better working conditions for workers. May 1st became a day for many to continue to bring attention the conditions of the labour force and as such has become known as Internation Worker’s Day. Many countries decided to make it a public holiday in recognition of importance of workers.
In the US, despite failed attempts to make today its official labour day, it is still observed as a day to protest and send a message to corporate America. This year the Occupy Wall Street, OWS, is staging a general day of protest asking people all across the nation to just do nothing for one whole day in an effort to highlight the impact of the labour force on the economy: No Work – No School – No Housework – No Shopping
So, what began as a pagan ritual celebrating the end of winter, has now morphed into a day of protest and dissent, a day to send out a “mayday” to anyone who will listen to the cries of distress of the labour force. http://occupywallst.org/
How will you celebrate today? May Day or sending out a mayday?