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What Even is May Day About?!

By Coupleofidiots @coupleofidiots
What even is May Day about?!
A few years ago, I'm pretty sure it was 2010, (but I could definitely be wrong) I was in Brighton celebrating my big sister's Hen Weekend casually walking through the town when we walked right into a protest. At the time I pretty much had no idea what it was about and it seemed relatively violent so we tried to stay away, all I know is what was on the leaflet I was given 'May Day Protest 2010'. When I was a kid, the beginning of May meant that I could go to Beaconsfield May Fair and waste a lot of my parents money, or when I was really young, it meant learning how to dance around a Maypole at school doing a funny dance (that I didn't really want to do). So, I hadn't seen the other, more politicised version of May Day events before hand. I think I must have been blissfully unaware that protests even happened on this day - being as they have been happening since the around 1890. So I thought I'd look into it in more detail being as its the first of May today, and share what I find!
The origin of the holiday lies in the fight for an eight hour working day in which the leaders of the Socialist Second International called for an international day of protest to be held at the beginning of May 1880's, the UK protest eventually took place on a Sunday attracting 300,000 protestors just in the UK, at Hyde Park. Initially it was supposed to be a one off protest, but it attracted more people and created a great internationalisation of the working class and enabled them to be united. In the UK, it's also known as International Workers Day,  and May 1st was made into a public bank holiday by the Labour Government in 1978, which led to it becoming more of an 'observed ritual' as the Guardian call it. In the UK, May Day is pretty much celebrated by protest - protest against capitalism (which personally I think is silly, but i'll get into that later), it is considered 'anti-capitalist'.  However, in the UK we no longer celebrate it on every May 1st. It is May bank holiday - the first Monday in May. In more recent years  the anti-capitalist movement has organised a number of large protests in London, Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Doncaster. In London, these have resulted in clashes with the police, such as the smashing of shops and statutes being defaced - in the last few years these marches have been more peaceful, and is now caused by the 'London May Day Organising Committee'. The London May Day events are considered to be the bringing together of trade unionists, workers from the many international communities in London, pensioners, anti-globalisation organisations, students, political bodies and many others in a show of working class unity. The whole theme of May Day is unity and solidarity - across the city, across the country, across the world.
It used to be about Traditional festivities, which include the generic Morris Dancing, crowning a May Queen and dancing around a maypole. Apparently, much of these activities derived from Celtic traditions. May day is almost always associated with towns and villages celebrating the 'springtime fertility of the soil', but in more recent years it has become more readily known for the protests and the processions. Which I find particularly interesting because it is almost the removal of the important (or not so important) traditions by creating new politically based ones. I personally, do not agree with protest, I'm kind of a peaceful political person - this only came to mind because in my law course this semester we've been learning about the law surround processions - you have to for example apply for the protest 28 days in advance in order to let the towns or cities prepare for the disruption they cause. It is because of this disruption that people end up sick of protests and lose interest in things such as this (much like I have). So yeah, just thought i'd write a little snippet about May Day whilst I have time before intense revision begins...
muchos love
ysabelle xxxx

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