or Labor Day
celebrated all over the world that resulted from the labour union
movement, to celebrate the economic
achievements of workers
. The majority of
countries celebrate Labour Day on May 1
it is popularly known as May Day
, while some celebrate on the first Monday of
The celebration of Labour Day has its origins in the Eight-hour day
movement, which advocated
eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation, and eight hours
Labour Days on the First of May
Labor Day: Most countries celebrate Labour Day on May 1, known as
May Day and International Workers' Day. In Europe the day has older
significance as a rural festival which is predominantly more
important than that of the Labour Day movement. The holiday has
become internationalised and several countries hold multi-day
celebrations including parades, shows and other patriotic and
labour-oriented events. However, in Northern Europe, Walpurgis Night
is celebrated on the
preceding night and this holiday merges with the Labour Day in some
May 1 is a
national holiday in Albania, Argentina, Aruba, Austria,
Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium,
Bolivia, Bosnia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Chile, Colombia, Costa
Rica, China, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech
Republic, Democratic Republic of the
Congo,Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Egypt, Finland,
France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India,
Indonesia (locally known as Hari Buruh), Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Latvia, Lithuania, Lebanon, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Morocco, Myanmar , Nigeria, North Korea, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, the Philippines, Portugal, Romania, the
Federation, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Serbia, Suriname, Sweden, Syria, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Uganda, Uruguay, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia, and
In Slovenia, Serbia and Ukraine, May 2
a national holiday.
, while May 1 is a
national holiday, it was renamed from Labour Day to simply "State
Holiday" in 1990.
Kingdom and some Caribbean nations, a labour holiday is provided on the first
Monday of May, which may coincide with May 1 but often does
not. These nations include the United Kingdom, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, the British overseas territory of
Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Saint Vincent and the
Grenadines. Also, as discussed in the Australia section below, Queensland and
Territory follow this policy.
Labour Days on the first Monday of September
Bermuda, Canada and the United States celebrate labour day on the
first Monday of September.
May 1 is a
national holiday in Albania,
commemorating the Workers' Movement. During Socialist Albania, the Politburo organized pompous parades
on the main boulevard of Tirana.
Since the collapse of communism, however, unions organize
occasional peaceful protests.
Celebrating the Australian
, the Labour Day public holiday is fixed by the
various state and
governments, and so varies considerably. It is the first Monday
in October in the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales and South Australia. In both Victoria and Tasmania, it is the second Monday in March (though the
latter calls it Eight Hours Day).
In Western Australia,
Labour Day is the first Monday in March. In both Queensland and
Territory, it is the first Monday in May.
Labour week is celebrated on the first week in June, and is a
a Labour Day parade in Toronto, Canada
Labour Day has been celebrated on the first Monday in September in
Canada since the 1880s. The origins of Labour Day in Canada can be
traced back to April 14, 1872 when a parade was staged in support
of the Toronto Typographical Union's strike for a 58-hour
work-week. The Toronto Trades Assembly (TTA) called its 27 unions
to demonstrate in support of the Typographical Union who had been
on strike since March 25. George Brown
politician and editor of the Toronto
hit back at his striking employees, pressing police to
charge the Typographical Union with "conspiracy." Although the laws
criminalizing union activity were outdated and had already been
abolished in Great Britain, they were still on books in Canada and
police arrested 24 leaders of the Typographical Union. Labour
leaders decided to call another similar demonstration on September
3 to protest the arrests. Seven unions marched in Ottawa, prompting
a promise by Canadian Prime Minister
Sir John A. Macdonald
to repeal the "barbarous"
anti-union laws. Parliament passed the Trade Union Act
on June 14 the following
year, and soon all unions were demanding a 54-hour work-week.
The Toronto Trades and Labour Council (successor to the TTA) held
similar celebrations every spring. American Peter J. McGuire
, co-founder of the American Federation of Labor
was asked to speak at a labour festival in Toronto, Canada on July
22, 1882. Returning to the United States, McGuire and the Knights of Labor
organized a similar
based on the Canadian event on
September 5, 1882 in New York City, USA. On July 23, 1894, Canadian
Prime Minister John
and his government made Labour Day, to be held in
September, an official holiday. In the United States, the New York
parade became an annual event that year, and in 1894 was adopted by
American president Grover Cleveland
to compete with International
While Labour Day parades and picnics are organized by unions, many
Canadians today simply regard Labour Day as the Monday of the last
long weekend of summer. Non-union celebrations include picnics,
activities, and public art events. Since the new school year
generally starts right after Labour Day, families with school-age
children take it as the last chance to travel before the end of
An old custom prohibits the wearing of white after Labour Day. The
explanations for this tradition range from the fact that white
clothes are worse protection against cold weather in the winter to
the fact that the rule was intended as a status symbol for new
members of the middle class in the late 19th century and early 20th
A Labour Day tradition in Canada is the Labour Day Classic
, a Canadian Football League
where rivals like Calgary
, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
and Toronto Argonauts
and Winnipeg Blue Bombers
on Labour Day weekend. Before the demise of the Ottawa Renegades
after the 2005 season,
that team played the nearby Montreal
on Labour Day weekend. Since then, the Alouettes have
played the remaining team in the league, the BC
Celebrated on May 1, Labor Day in China is a major holiday carrying
comparable significance as the National Day, which occurrs on
October 1, and the Spring Festival on the first day of the first
In 1999, the Labour Day holiday was extended from 1 day to 3 days.
The Chinese government made it a 7 day holiday by moving the prior
and upcoming weekends together with these 3 days. The Labour Day
holiday was one of the three Golden
in China, allowing millions of Chinese people to travel
during this period.
Starting January 1
, 2008, the People's
Republic of China reduced this holiday period down to 1 day, while
simultaneously reviving three traditional Chinese holidays:
Dragon Boat Festival
(清明节) , and the
May 1 is declared a holiday in France. The french also celebrate
"Le jour du muguet". Workers and students sell lily of the valley
(French: Muguet) on the streets and from door to door to collect
funds for unions and associations.
In Germany, Labour Day was established as an official holiday
in 1933 after the Nazi Party
rose to power. It was supposed to
symbolise the new-found unity between the state and the German
people. However, just one day later, on May 2, 1933, all free
unions were outlawed and destroyed. But since the holiday had been
celebrated by German workers for many decades before the official
state endorsement, the Nazi attempt to appropriate it left no
In Greece, May 1 is a state holiday. Left-wing
parties invariably refer to it as a
" instead, organizing commemorative marches
throughout the country.
India started observing Labour week beginning on May 1, 1927. It is
a public holiday with processions carried out by various labour
organizations. In Maharashtra and Gujarat (States
in India), Labour week also coincides with 'Maharashtra Divas'
and 'Gujarat Divas' (respectively, Maharashtra Day and Gujarat Day)
because the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat were created on the
same week in 1960.
Prior to the 1979 Islamic
, Labour Day in Imperial Iran was a holiday on the
same day as Canada and the United States.
In the Islamic Republic of Iran (1979-present), Labour Day is not a
holiday but it is officially celebrated on May 1 to thank workers
as an important group of society.
Ireland, Labour Day falls on May Day, the first Monday in
May, which is a public
Israel May 1 is
not officially celebrated, but each year the socialist and Marxist
youth movements arrange a parade in Tel Aviv.
In Italy, May 1 is national holiday, demonstrations of the trade unions
are widespread. Since the 1990s,
the trade unions
have organised a
massive free concert in Rome, with attendances topping a million
Before 1961, May 24 was celebrated in Jamaica as Empire Day in
honour of the birthday of Queen
and her emancipation of slaves in Jamaica. As its name
suggests, the day was used to celebrate the British Empire and
England, complete with flag-raising ceremonies and the singing of
In 1961, Jamaican Chief
Minister Norman Washington
proposed the replacement of Empire Day with Labour Day,
a celebration in commemoration of May 23, 1938, when Alexander Bustamante
led a labour
leading to Jamaican independence.
Until May 23, 1971, Labour Day was primarily a trade unions
celebration with public rallies and marches. On occasion, opposing
trade unions clashed on this day, so in 1972, Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley
promoted Labour Day as a
showcase for the importance of labour to the development of
Jamaica, and a day of voluntary community participation to
beneficial projects. Since then, Labour Day has not only been a
public holiday, but also a day of mass community involvement around
(L-Ewwel ta' Mejju) is a public holiday in Malta.
Celebrations mainly in Valletta held by General Workers Union and
Malta Labour Party.
In Mexico, Labour week is a public holiday held on the first week
In New Zealand, Labour Day is a public holiday held on the fourth
Monday in October. Its origins are traced back to the
eight-hour working day movement that arose in the newly founded
Wellington colony in 1840, primarily because of carpenter
Samuel Parnell's refusal to work more
than eight hours a day.
He encouraged other tradesmen to
also only work for eight hours a day and, in October 1840, a
workers' meeting passed a resolution supporting the idea. On
October 28, 1890, the 50th anniversary of the eight-hour day was
commemorated with a parade. The event was then celebrated annually
in late October as either Labour Day
. In 1899 government legislated that the day
be a public holiday from 1900. The day was celebrated on different
days in different provinces. This led to ship owners complaining
that seamen were taking excessive holidays by having one Labour Day
in one port then another in their next port. In 1910 the government
the holiday so that it would be observed on
the same day throughout the nation. Nowadays for the majority of
New Zealanders it's "just another holiday".
The first May 1 celebration in the Philippines was held on May 1,
1903 under the Union Obrero Democratica de Filipinas
(UODF). Thousands of workers marched from Plaza
Moriones in Tondo to
Palace (then seat of the Governor-General of the
Philippines) to demand complete independence.
8, 1908, the Philippine Assembly
passed a bill making the first day of May a national holiday
. It is titled
, spelled in American English
, since the Philippines was
a former American territory. On May 1, 1974, President Ferdinand Marcos
, in the exercise of his
then extant legislative powers, signed Presidential Decree
No. 442 known as the
Labor Code of the
. It was drafted by the Secretary of Labor
1, labor unions march from the Mabuhay (Welcome) Rotonda in the
City-Manila border to
Miranda to Mendiola Bridge (the bridge nearest to the
Palace main gate) to protest anti-labor practices and to
denounce the seating president.
exception was on May 1, 2001, during EDSA
uprising, where the protest is not related to Labor day but
to unseat the president. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
State of Rebellion
pursuant to Proclamation No. 38 and
lifted the order on May 7, 2001.
Though it was suggested under Republic
No. 9492, setting holidays including Labor Day to the
nearest Monday, President Gloria
did not move Labor Day as it may spark
opposition from different labor unions.
Trinidad and Tobago
Tobago, Labour Day is celebrated every June 19.
This holiday was proposed in 1973 to be commemorated on the
anniversary of the 1937 Butler
Turkey, May 1 is
celebrated as Labour and Solidarity Day, valid from 2009 and its
The United States
Labor Day is a United States federal
that falls on the first Monday of September. It is
customarily viewed as the end of the summer, especially of the
vacation season; many schools open for the year in the week after
Labor Day. The United States also adopted the tradition of not
wearing white after Labor Day from Canada.
- Trinidad and Tobago Labour Day
- 5 U.S.C. § 6103(a).
- Yelena Johnson, Labor Day End of Summer White Party,
Celebrations. Accessed 2009.10.05.
- Rosalind S. Helderman, " Issues That Matter to You: School Start After Labor
Day"; The Washington Post, September 6, 2009.