May Day is here.
For the ancient pagans of Europe, today meant the start of summer. Labor movements around the world mark the day as a day workers can stand up against the ruling class. For me, my lovely bride and goofy pooch, it simply means the sun is out, driving the mercury to rise.
But to each his own, I always say. I leave you with the origins of May Day as presented by marxists.org:
“The first of May was originally celebrated by pagans throughout Europe as the beginning of summer, which was recognised as a day of fertility (both for the first spring planting and sexual intercourse). A maypole was oftentimes erected for young women and men to dance around and entwine the ribbons they carried with one another to find a mate… at least for the night. The ancient Celts and Saxons celebrated the day as Beltane, the day of fire, in honor of the god of the sun; beginning their celebrations at midnight; soon acquiring the label Walpurgisnacht, or night of the witches.
“Persecution of May Day began as early as the 1600s; in 1644 the British Parliament banned its practice as immoral, with the Church bringing its full force to bear across the spectrum. Governments throughout Europe were largely ineffective in outlawing these celebrations, and thus the Church took a different approach – it attempted to assimilate the festivities by naming Saints days on the first of May. These efforts led to the destruction of May Day in some places, but the traditions and customs of May Day continued to remain strong throughout much of the peasantry of Europe, whose ties to one another and nature were far stronger than their ties to the ruling class and its religion. Celebrations became increasingly festive, especially at night when huge feasts, song, dance and free love were practiced throughout the night.
“After the revolutions of capitalism, the roots and principles of the tradition survived to various extents, with workers across Europe celebrating the first of May as the coming of spring and a day of sexual fertility. Most mythical and religious sentiments faded away, but the spirit of the festival in expressing the love of nature and one another gained strength.
“In 1884, the U.S. Federation of Organized Trade and Labor Unions had passed a law declaring that, as of May 1, 1886, an eight hour workday would be the full and legal workday for all U.S. workers – the ruling class had that much time to recognise this new law and put it into effect.
“The owners refused.
“On May 1, 1886, workers took to the streets in a general strike throughout the entire country to force the ruling class to recognise the eight-hour working day. Over 350,000 workers across the country directly participated in the general strike, with hundreds of thousands of workers joining the marches as best they could.
“In what they would later call the Haymarket riots, during the continuing strike action on May third in Chicago, the heart of the U.S. labor movement, the Chicago police opened fire on the unarmed striking workers at the McCormick Reaper Works, killing six workers and wounding untold numbers. An uproar across the nation resounded against the government and its police brutality, with workers’ protest rallies and demonstrations throughout the nation set to assemble on the following day.”
However you choose to mark the day, be safe and enjoy our wonderful weather.