May Day - New York City: Protests and Celebrations
May Day, most often associated with the commemoration of the social and economic achievements of the labor movement, is celebrated worldwide every May 1st with protests, rallies and musical events.
The idea was first born in Australia
when the workers there decided in 1856 to organize a day of complete
work stoppage together with meetings and entertainment as a
demonstration in favor of the eight-hour day. The first to follow the
example of the Australian workers were the Americans. In 1884 the
Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions demanded an eight-hour
workday in the United States, to come in effect as of May 1, 1886. This
resulted in the general strike and the U.S. Haymarket Riot of 1886, but
eventually also in the official sanction of the eight-hour workday.
Day has also long been a Spring festival where people gathered together
on the first day of May to celebrate the coming of Summer. There is
also a pagan festival called Beltaine on the first of May, considered a time of fertility celebrated with unbridled merrymaking, and lots and lots of sex. It is legend that children conceived at Beltane were gifted by the Gods. These children became known as Merry-Be-Gots.
There were events throughout New York City today including the "19th Annual Squatters Mayday Celebration" with free music at Tompkins Square Park, the "No More Nuclear Excuses for War!"march and rally near the United Nations, the "Unite, Fight Back, Jobs, Not War, Bring the Troops Home Now" rally in
Union Square, a labor and war protest along 2nd Ave and a rally
in Central Park that culminated in people getting together to form a
large peace sign on the great lawn.
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