May Day can only be red-letter day

Time Out New York wants to sell magazines, so it's virtually impossible to find anything on their website, but the print copy reminded me today of the remarkable history of May 1 as a world holiday (except in the U.S., of course), so I owe them a credit even if they make me type the entire story myself. The piece is amazing for its Left-radical slant, although any other would hardly be possible in talking about the history of May Day.

It's nearly May 1, and America's least popular holiday next to National Boss Day is upon us. May day originally began as a pagan celebration, marking the arrival of spring. Toward the end of the 19th century, however, the holiday took on a serious socialist flavor. Maybe that's why May Day - popular in the rest of the world - never caught on here. (Hallmark doesn't print a single card for it, and the company makes a whopping 100 different designs for an obscure October "holiday" called Sweetest Day.) Following a strike by American workers for an eight-hour working day, the 1899 International Socialist Congress officially established May Day as the holiday of the workingman. The day was always marked by large military parades in Communist countries. (The American government, paranoid entity that it is, moved to counter in 1947 by designating May 1 "Loyalty Day." Hallmark doesn't make any cards for that, either.)

And for your further edification, "Mayday" - the distress cry of pilots - has nothing to do with spring, socialism or holidays. It's simply an English bastardization of the French m'aidez, which means "help me!" - Reed Tucker

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Published on April 25, 2003 1:06 AM.

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