Re: [OPE-L] May Day, a day to remember many traditions

From: glevy@PRATT.EDU
Date: Thu Apr 27 2006 - 09:53:19 EDT

Oops.  This was a draft I wanted to send to myself and sent to the list
instead.  Oh, well ... I guess there's no harm in celebrating early.

In solidarity, Jerry

> The information below is excerpted from Wikipedia.
> May Day, a day to remember.
> -- It's a day to remember its historical origin in ... Canada.
> -- In the UK, it's a day to remember Spring Bank Holiday.
> -- Throughout the world, it's a day for revolutionaries to remember
> Blutmai.
> -- It's EuroMayDay!
> -- It's Saint Joseph's Day.
> -- It's a day for Morris dancing.  It's the Return of the Sun day. (Not
>     mentioned below) it's Squatters May Day.
> ==========================================================================
> 1) Oh, Canada!
> May Day is a name for various holidays celebrated on May 1 (or in the
> beginning of May). The most famous of these is International Workers' Day,
> which is the commemoration of the social and economic achievements of the
> labor movement. The 1 May date is used because in 1884 the Federation of
> Organized Trades and Labor Unions, inspired by Labor's 1872
> <>  success in Canada, 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.
> 2) Spring Bank Holiday
> May Day in the United Kingdom
> In the United Kingdom, political events have sometimes split into two
> camps.
> The mainstream workers' movement celebrates May Day on the first Monday in
> May, which is the national Spring Bank Holiday and may or may not actually
> occur on 1 May. Small-scale rallies are held by political parties
> (generally
> including, but not limited to, the Labour Party, the Socialist Workers'
> Party, the Scottish Socialist Party, the Communist Party of Britain and
> other left-wing groups). These occasions are typified by beer tents in
> parks
> and selling of Marxist propaganda materials.
> The actual date of 1 May in the U.K., meanwhile, generally features
> rallies
> and demonstrations organised by anarchist groups, although in recent years
> these have also involved communist groups, particularly those of the
> Trotskyist branch.
> 3) Blutmai, 1929
> May Day Militancy in Germany
> May Day graffiti in Berlin. The text reads, "1 May: Cars burn, cops die."
> 'Bullen' (bulls, male cows) is a derogatory term used for the police.
> <
> 80px-1Mai-Berlin-small.jpg>
> Enlarge
> May Day graffiti in Berlin. The text reads, "1 May: Cars burn, cops die."
> 'Bullen' (bulls, male cows) is a derogatory term used for the police.
> Berlin, Germany, particularly in the districts of Kreuzberg and Prenzlauer
> Berg, traditionally has yearly demonstrations on May Day. In 1929, the
> social democratic SPD government prohibited the annual May Day workers'
> demonstrations in Berlin. The communist party KPD, which was the strongest
> party in Berlin, called demonstrations nonetheless. By the end of the day,
> 32 demonstrators, workers and bystanders had been killed by the police, at
> least 80 were seriously injured. The Berlin police, under control of the
> supposedly pro-labor social democratic government, had fired a total of
> 11,000 rounds of live ammunition.
> This incident, remembered in the German language as Blutmai
> <>  (blood May) deepened the split
> between the workers' parties KPD and SPD. This gave an advantage to the
> Nazis, who became Germany's governing party in 1933, partly due to the
> fact
> that the KPD and SPD had been unable to form an anti-Nazi coalition. It
> was
> the Nazis, not the social democratic parties of the Weimar republic, who
> made May Day a holiday in Germany. By doing so, they took up the
> connotations of having done so, but did not permit leftist demonstrations
> on
> this day. Further, they adapted it to their purposes, calling it the "day
> of
> work", which is still the official name for this public holiday.
> Ironically,
> just after May Day - to be more precise, on May 2, 1933 - the Nazis
> outlawed
> all free labor unions and other independent workers' organizations in
> Germany. The Reichsarbeitsdienst (or RAD, Reich Labour Service) was formed
> in July 1934 as an amalgamation of the outlawed unions.
> In today's Germany May Day is still of political importance, with labor
> unions and parties using this day for political campaigns and
> activitileftists, including the punk rock scene, Autonome, and others, but
> also "regular" youths not fond of the police. However, May Day 2005 in
> Berlin was the most peaceful in nearly 23 years.
> In recent years, neo-nazis and other groups on the far right like the es,
> but since 1987 it has also become known for heavy rioting by radical
> NPD have also used the day to schedule public demonstrations, often
> leading to clashes with left-wing protesters, which turned especially
> violent in the
> historical city of Leipzig in 1998 and 2005.
> 4) EuroMayDay
> Since 2001, EuroMayDay has become part of the celebration of the First of
> May, aiming to update the political content of the traditional May Day.
> The
> point of reference of EuroMayDay is not the industrial working class, but
> rather the multitude of increasingly precarized post-fordist
> flex/temp/networkers. EuroMayDay aims to create visible opposition against
> precarization of labour and life. EuroMayDay was originated in Milan,
> Italy,
> from where it first spread to Barcelona in 2004 and then to over a dozen
> cities all over Europe in 2005. In 2005, approximately 200.000 people took
> part in the Europe-wide EuroMayDay.
> In 2005, the EuroMayDay network used the slogan Precarious of the world
> let's unite and strike 4 a free open radical Europe. The Middlesex
> Declaration of Europe's Precariat 2004
> <>  emerged from the Beyond ESF
> event held in parallel to the European Social Forum held in London in
> September 2004. In 2006, even more cities are taking part in EuroMayDay.
> The
> amount of participants has increased from 5000 people in Milan in 2001 to
> 50.000 in 2003 and 100.000 in 2004 (Milan and Barcelona altogether).
> EuroMayDay Cities have included Amsterdam, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Hamburg,
> Helsinki, Jyväskylä, L'Aquila, Leon, Liege, London, Maribor, Marseilles,
> Milan, Naples, Palermo, Paris, Seville, Stockholm and Vienna. External
> link:
> *       Euromayday website <>
> 5) Governmental Resistance to May Day
> In the United States, instead of May Day, Labor Day is celebrated on the
> first Monday in September. It is a creation of the labor movement and is
> dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It
> constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have
> made
> to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of the country.
> 6) Saint Joseph's Day
> In a separate attempt to co-opt May Day, the Roman Catholic Church added
> another Saint Joseph's Day in 1955 that Christianized 1 May as the day of
> "Saint Joseph, the Worker". It is perhaps surprising that the Church did
> not
> take this step earlier, to distract attention from the traditionally
> virile
> pagan celebrations of May Day.
> 7) Other Traditions
> Morris dancing on May Day, Oxford 2004.
> <
> iefs20040501_CopyrightKaihsuTai.jpg/180px-CotswoldMorrisHandkerchiefs2004050
> 1_CopyrightKaihsuTai.jpg>
> Enlarge
> Morris dancing on May Day, Oxford 2004.
> Traditional English May Day rites and celebrations include Morris dancing,
> crowning a May Queen, celebrating Green Man day and dancing around a
> Maypole. Much of this tradition derives from the pagan festival of
> Beltane.
> In Oxford on May Morning, many pubs are open from sunrise, and some of the
> college bars are open all night. Madrigals are still sung from the roof of
> the tower of Magdalen College, with thousands gathering on Magdalen Bridge
> to listen. Traditionally, revellers have jumped from the bridge into the
> River Cherwell below as part of the celebrations. About one hundred people
> did this in 2005. The river, however, was then only three feet deep in
> places and more than half of those who jumped needed medical treatment.
> St Andrews has a similar student tradition - the majority of the students
> gather on the beach late on April 30th and run into the North Sea at
> sunrise
> on the 1st, often naked. This is accompanied by torchlit processions and
> much celebration.
> May Day is exactly a half-year from November 1, All Saints' Day. Marking
> the
> end of the uncomfortable winter half of the year in the Northern
> hemisphere,
> it has always been an occasion for popular and often raucous celebrations,
> regardless of the political or religious establishment. May Day was also
> originally the Celtic holiday Beltaine, the "Return of the Sun". It is the
> third and last of the spring festivals. We can see traces of Beltaine when
> dancing around the maypole or sending a basket of flowers to your
> neighbor's
> door.
> Other holidays on May Day were also respected by some early European
> settlers of the American continent. The day also marks springtime
> celebrations such as:
> *       Walpurgis Night in Northern Europe, including the Finnish Vappu
> celebrations
> *       Beltane in Ireland and Scotland
> *       Roodmas
> *       Calendimaggio in Northern and Central Italy, related to the return
> of the sun and spring
> *       May Morning in Oxford
> *       Hamilton College hosts an annual music outdoor music festival
> known
> as "May Day." However the name has no political connotations or
> association
> with other May Day holidays. Rather the name simply refers to the fact
> that
> the festival is staged in late April or early May.
> In Hawaii, May Day is also known as Lei Day, and is normally set aside as
> a
> day to celebrate island culture in general and native Hawaiian culture in
> particular. In rural regions of Germany, Walpurgisnacht celebrations of
> pagan origin are traditionally held on the night before May Day, including
> bonfires and the wrapping of May Poles, and young people use this
> opportunity to party, while the day itself is used by many families to get
> some fresh air, wurst and beer. Motto: "Tanz in den Mai!" ("Dance in
> May!").
> Some links:
> *       May Day and related topics on the Marxists Internet Archive
> <>
> *       May Day in the West and the East, by
> <>  Trotsky
> *       The Idea of May Day on the March, by
> <>  Rosa Luxemburg
> *       Magdalen College description of May Morning in Oxford
> <>
> *       May Day: Festival for the Workers
> <> , Keith
> Flett, Socialist Review, May 2002
> *       Euromayday 2006 <>
> =====================================================================
> May Day -- a day to celebrate and remember!
> In solidarity, Jerry

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