Pattaya Daily News

01 May 2010 :: 09:05:47 am 19413

May Day & Its Historical Events

May Day or Labour Day is a special day for the Labour movement representing a day of worldwide solidarity and to remember past struggles and demonstrations for a better future.
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The American Federation of Labour made history when they won their battle for an eight hour working day, ‘eight hours shall constitute a legal day’s labour from and after May 1st 1886’. Across America, thousands of workers, skilled and unskilled, black and white, male and female joined together in their fight for a shorter working week with Chicago being the main centre of agitation where 300,000 workers came out on May 1st.

The month of May was named after Maia the Greek Goddess. This month has many celebrations in the northern hemisphere, the time of new growth when plants and flowers come into bud and crops begin to sprout. The Anglo Saxons used the name Tri Milchi for May, because with all the new grass they were able to milk the cows three times a day. May was first used around 1430, before this it was called Maius, Mayes, or Mai.

In most parts of Western Europe, particularly Britain, 1st May has always been celebrated, marking the end of the harsh winter and the beginning of a productive summer. It was considered a major annual festival celebrated with food, music, dancing and games. Traditionally, May Day is celebrated on the first Monday of May which is now considered a bank holiday and so gives every one a long weekend off to dance around maypoles, ride their hobby horse, and play at being Robin Hood and Morris dancing.

In some parts of Britain May Day is called Garland Day. Very young children would go out and collect greenery to make garlands. Sometimes the garland would be fastened to crosses made from sticks or wrapped around hoops the children would then parade round the village in the hope of collecting money. Garland ceremonies are still celebrated to this day.

On the morning of May 1st, young girls would rush out and wash their face in the morning dew. This was an old superstition that May dew was magic and any one washing their face in it would rid them of any spots, blemishes or freckles and they would have a beautiful complexion for the rest of the year.

The month of May was considered unlucky for those contemplating marriage: ‘Marry in May and you’ll rule the day’ It was thought that to have a baby born in May was to produce a sickly child. Never buy a broom in May or wash blankets: ‘Wash a blanket in May will wash a dear one away’. Cats born in May will not be good at catching rodents and worse, will bring snakes into the home. So here we have a little information on how May apparently got its name and how May Day came to be.

Patty Brown

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