The First of May - Prvi maj

Join me for a short walk down the valley
A collage of old Yugoslavian May Day posters

The first of May is a public holiday here in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

This year it falls on a Sunday, so tomorrow will be a a day off instead.

I had always thought that Labour Day/Workers Day was something that grew out of the Russian Revolution of 1917. How totally wrong I was.

The first Labour Day was marked in 1890 in Europe, after the International Congress of Socialist Parties declared that 1 May would be associated with labour rights

Also known as International Workers’ Day or May Day, the occasion celebrates the contribution of workers to society. It also commemorates the achievements of the historic labour movement.

In 1889, trade unions and socialist groups declared that 1 May would be observed as International Workers’ Day. The day would commemorate people who had lost their lives in the 1886 Haymarket affair of Chicago.

In 1886, a peaceful rally in support of workers’ rights in Chicago led to a clash with police officials. According to reports, 7 police officers and 4 civilians died in the violence. Many protestors were arrested and given harsh sentences such as life imprisonment. The people who died in the violence were hailed by workers as the ‘Haymarket martyrs’.

The Haymarket affair gave a big boost to people who were campaigning for eight-hour work shifts and better wages and working conditions.

How is International Workers Day celebrated / remembered where you live?

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David Pejčinović-Bailey MBE