International Workers’ Day, also known as Workers’ Day or Labour Day in some countries and often referred to as May Day, is a celebration of labourers and the working classes that is promoted by the international labour movement which occurs every year on May Day (1 May), an ancient European spring festival.
The date was chosen by a pan-national organization of socialist and communist political parties to commemorate the Haymarket affair, which occurred in Chicago on 4 May 1886.
The 1904 Sixth Conference of the Second International, called on “all Social Democratic Party organisations and trade unions of all countries to demonstrate energetically on the First of May for the legal establishment of the eight-hour day, for the class demands of the proletariat, and for universal peace.”
The first of May is a national, public holiday in many countries across the world, in most cases as “Labour Day”, “International Workers’ Day” or some similar name – although some countries celebrate a Labour Day on other dates significant to them, such as the United States and Canada, which celebrate Labor Day on the first Monday of September.
In India, Labour Day is a public holiday held on every 1 May.
The holiday is tied to labour movements for communist and socialist political parties.
Labour Day is known as “Uzhaipalar dhinam” in Tamil and was first celebrated in Madras, “Kamgar Din” in Hindi, “Karmikara Dinacharane” in Kannada,”Karmika Dinotsavam in Telugu, “Kamgar Divas” in Marathi, “Thozhilaali Dinam” in Malayalam and “Shromik Dibosh” in Bengali.
Since Labour day is not a national holiday, Labour day is observed as public holiday at State Government’s discretion. Many parts especially in North Indian States it is not a public holiday.
The first May Day celebration in India was organized in Madras (now Chennai) by the Labour Kisan Party of Hindustan on 1 May 1923. This was also the first time the red flag was used in India. The party leader Singaravelu Chettiar made arrangements to celebrate May Day in two places in 1923. One meeting was held at the beach opposite to the Madras High Court; the other meeting was held at the Triplicane beach. The Hindu newspaper, published from Madras reported, “The Labour Kisan party has introduced May Day celebrations in Madras. Comrade Singaravelar presided over the meeting. A resolution was passed stating that the government should declare May Day as a holiday. The president of the party explained the non-violent principles of the party. There was a request for financial aid. It was emphasised that workers of the world must unite to achieve independence.”
Vaiko (Vai Gopalsamy), General Secretary of Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, appealed to the then Prime Minister V. P. Singh to declare 1 May as a national holiday, to which the PM heeded and from then on it became a national holiday to celebrate International Labour Day.