Today is May 1st, May Day. It is also International Workers’ Day, a celebration of the international labor movement and a holiday for the commemoration of the Haymarket Massacre in Chicago in 1886. Labor Unions, all over the world, are marching, rallying and even striking (at LAX today) on this first day of May. It’s amazing how this one day can contain so many different meanings to so many different cultures, many located right here in the United States.
Aside from the labor unions commemorating International Workers’ Day, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) declared May 1st as “Loyalty Day,” originally called “Americanization Day,” a day set aside for the reaffirmation of loyalty to the United States and for the recognition of the heritage of American freedom. This started back in the 1920s as a counter to communists and was officially declared a national holiday by the U.S. Congress in 1958.
For the Latino immigrant population, May 1st is the day for the Great American Boycott, a general strike of undocumented workers and supporters seeking immigration reform legislation. This started in 2006 and is still going strong today, especially in downtown Los Angeles. It was all over the news this morning.
And not to be left out of all of the rallies and demonstrations, the Occupy Wall Street and Occupy LA movements are also planning demonstrations throughout the country. There are four rallies planned just for the Los Angeles area.
But for me, I like to think of May 1st as “May Day,” the festival of Flora, the Roman Goddess of Flowers. A festival where people dance with ribbons around a maypole and a Queen of May is crowned. It is the celebration of Spring time (and fertility). It lets us know that the long days of winter are behind us (though it is ironically raining here in Los Angeles today–our form of winter weather) and the long days of summer are in our future. It’s the whole “April Showers Bring May Flowers” ideal that we were taught as children. No violence, no demonstrating, no anger, no protesting–just ribbons, dancing, celebrating and flowers.