Apr 30

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A Brief History of Labour Day (May 1)

“Most of the world marks Labor Day on May 1 with parades and rallies. Americans celebrate it in early September, by heading to the beach or firing up the grill. Why the discrepancy? Here’s a hint: The answer would have been a great disappointment to Frederick Engels.

Engels, the co-author of The Communist Manifesto, had high hopes for May Day, which originated in the United States. When the socialist-dominated organization known as the Second International jumped on the American bandwagon and adopted May 1 as International Labor Day, Engels confidently expected the proletariats of Europe and America to merge into one mighty labor movement and sweep capitalism into the dustbin of history.

Things didn’t work out that way, of course, and the divergent Labor Day celebrations are part of the story.

May Day’s origins can be traced to Chicago, where the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions, under its leader Samuel Gompers, mounted a general strike on May 1, 1886, as part of its push for an eight-hour work day. On May 4, during a related labor rally in Haymarket Square, someone threw a bomb, which killed a policeman and touched off a deadly mêlée. As a result, four radical labor leaders were eventually hanged on dubious charges.”

Source: www.forbes.com. Read the complete article.


labour (UK spelling) / labor (US spelling) – work

to head somewhere – go somewhere

discrepancy – difference between 2 things that should be the same

to have high hopes – to expect good things to happen, to have a good feeling about something

to merge – to combine two or more things to form one  single thing (e.g., 2 companies my merge and form 1 company)

dustbin – trash can

things didn’t work out that way – things didn’t go as expected

to be traced to something – to originate somewhere

dubious charges – accusations that you cannot be sure about because you suspect that they are not based on the truth


Image courtesy of nongpimmy at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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Permanent link to this article: http://www.euenglish.hu/2015/04/a-brief-history-of-labour-day-may-1/

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