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Happy May Day - about May Day

Editorial Staff
May Day is a remarkably long-standing tradition, far pre-dating the political statement it has become - and even that statement is more than 100 years old.
May Day is a spring festival in those parts of the northern hemisphere that see proper seasons. Originally a pagan festival, it marked the beginning of the crop sowing season, mid-way through spring. Obviously, it has fertility connotations - no doubt helped by a party atmosphere. Mayday, in England, has long been celebrated by dancing (search for MORRIS DANCERS and MAYPOLE for examples) and similar activities are seen elsewhere in Europe. There are cakes and ale. At least. A riot in the USA in the late 1800s led to the adoption of the date by socialists relating to workers' rights and socialist governments around the world have adopted it as "Labour Day" and created a public holiday. They even co-opted the music from a Christmas song, "Oh Christmas Tree" for their anthem "The Red Flag." Not that "Oh Christmas Tree" was the original use of the music: it was written, as German song "Oh Tennenbaum" - also about a Christmas tree - which was even recorded by Nat King Cole. The British Labour Party adopted The Red Flag as its anthem, sealing its far left credentials: as it moved, nominally, towards the centre under the Blair/Brown administration there were moves to drop it because of its communist associations. But Labour Day remained a marker for, in particular, Trade Unionists, even though, in the UK, the May Day public holiday rarely takes place on 1 May: rather than disrupt a working week, and so that workers get a long weekend, it is moved to the first Monday after the 1 May, where it is named "Early May Bank Holiday" and everyone benefits.

 


 

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