May Day: What Does it Mean?

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May Day, celebrated on May 1, is an ancient spring festival that has taken on a variety of different meanings in different cultures over the centuries.

May Day

Historians believe that the origins of May Day date back (way back) to the Celtic festival of Beltane and the Germanic festival of Walpurgis Night.

May Day falls exactly half a year from November 1, another day linked with various northern European pagans and the calendar of the Northern Hemisphere.

Got all that?!?

In modern times, May Day was also marked by some early European settlers of the Americas as a spring celebration, though it slowly fell out of favor.

This is believed to be because of the Cold War, though the day remains more significant in Great Britain today and throughout much of Europe.

In fact, in many nations, workers have transformed May Day into International Workers Day, an annual cause to call for higher pay and better working conditions.

A May Day labor union strike in Greece has disrupted ferry service and public transportation in Athens where demonstrators are protesting against austerity policies.

Workers across Spain, where the unemployment rate has rocketed to 27 percent in 2013, are holding rallies to call for economic policy changes.

In the Philippines, demonstrators want the government to stop hiring contract workers who do not enjoy the same rights and securities of regular, full-time employees.

Police in Istanbul, Turkey Wednesday clashed with crowds of people marching towards Taksim Square, the usual site of May Day celebrations.

Laborers in Cambodia are calling on lawmakers to increase minimum wage.