May 1st is International Worker’s Day and is celebrated around the world with marches and actions. There have been many attempts to rewrite the history of May Day. In 2011 the Tories proposed moving the May Day Bank Holiday to October and replace it with “UK Day” and in America May 1st is has been “Loyalty Day” since 1921 (not that many people celebrate it mind!).
Because of this we thought it was important to repost this article, explaining as briefly as possible, the true origins of May Day or International Worker’s Day. If reading isn’t your thing then check out this talk by Bristol Radical History Group from 2012 on the history of May Day.
by Eric Chase (1993)
Most people living in the United States know little about the International Workers’ Day of May Day. For many others there is an assumption that it is a holiday celebrated in state communist countries like Cuba or the former Soviet Union. Most Americans don’t realize that May Day has its origins here in this country and is as “American” as baseball and apple pie, and stemmed from the pre-Christian holiday of Beltane, a celebration of rebirth and fertility. Continue reading
Bristol was awash with a sea of red & black flags today as anarchists, radicals and trade unionists took to the streets for May Day. Four hundred people descended on College Green for a march and rally organised by Bristol Trades Council to commemorate International Worker’s Day (May1st). A large Radical Block we called that was made up of members of Bristol Anarchist Federation, Solidarity Federation, IWW and other revolutionaries numbering around 50 were present from the beginning handing out leaflets about the true origin of May Day.
As the march began the Radical Block took position near the front of the procession. The demonstration snaked out of College Green and down Park Street towards the Fountains as chants rung out from the block. There were some old favourites in there as well as a few new ones including a variation of “Solidarity Forever” called “Aristocracy Forever”.