May 1st: Loyalty Day

You thought that May Day (May 1st) was known for maypoles, flowers and welcoming the spring.  An ancient pagan holiday celebrating the start of summer, known as Beltaine (Beltane) in Gaelic traditions. Wait! There’s more….

H&M Floral Coachella Crown

It is also a day of worker solidarity and protest; though the U.S. observes its official Labor Day in September, many countries will celebrate Labor Day on Monday, May 1st, 2017.

In the 1880’s, labor movements around the world were fighting for fair work accommodations like eight-hour workdays and creating unions. On May Day, 1886 – 200,000 U. S. workmen engineered a nationwide strike for an eight-hour day.

The May 1, 1886, labor action wasn’t just any strike—it was part of what became known as the Haymarket affair. On May 1 of that year, Chicago (along with other cities) was the site of a major union demonstration. The Chicago protests were meant to be part of several days of action. On May 3, a strike at the McCormick Reaper plant in the city turned violent; the next day, a peaceful meeting at Haymarket Square became even more violent.

Here’s how TIME magazine summed it up in 1938:

A few minutes after ten o’clock on the night of May 4, 1886, a storm began to blow up in Chicago. As the first drops of rain fell, a crowd in Haymarket Square, in the packing house district, began to break up. At eight o’clock there had been 3,000 persons on hand, listening to anarchists denounce the brutality of the police and demand the eight-hour day, but by ten there were only a few hundred. The mayor, who had waited around in expectation of trouble, went home, and went to bed. The last speaker was finishing his talk when a delegation of 180 policemen marched from the station a block away to break up what remained of the meeting. They stopped a short distance from the speaker’s wagon. As a captain ordered the meeting to disperse, and the speaker cried out that it was a peaceable gathering, a bomb exploded in the police ranks. It wounded 67 policemen, of whom seven died. The police opened fire, killing several men and wounding 200, and the Haymarket Tragedy became a part of U. S. history.

In 1889, the International Socialist Conference declared that, in commemoration of the Haymarket affair, May 1 would be an international holiday for labor, known as International Workers’ Day.

Lugrash Larry, mother of four, laborer in Blast Furnace, US women workers of WWII series (c.1943) by Margaret Bourke-White LIFE

In the U.S., that holiday rolled along until its socialist beginnings raised contempt during the anti-communist fervor of the early Cold War. President Eisenhower signed a resolution in July of 1958 naming May 1 as “Loyalty Day” in trying to avoid any hint of solidarity with the “workers of the world” on May Day. The resolution declared that it would be “a special day for the reaffirmation of loyalty to the United States of America and for the recognition of the heritage of American freedom.”

Hmm…

  • Equal Pay for Women Workers
  • Loyalty to the United States
  • Celebrating the coming of Summer and Fertility

Master will be totally into this History. He is passionate about protest.
Ugh. Can dievca just head to work and treat it like a normal Monday?

Coffee, anyone?


One Comment on “May 1st: Loyalty Day”

  1. I’m with dievca here! Since I have to get used to not celebrating May Day for the next few years, I’ll have that coffee at least!


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