What is May Day, Anyway?

This 1886 engraving, printed in Harpers Magazine, was the most widely reproduced image of the Haymarket incident.
So … what is May Day anyway?

For some, it means prancing awkwardly around a feather-wreathed pole.

But that ancient Druid rite of Spring that school kids for some reason still rehearse is probably not what today’s Occupy protesters have in mind.

In countries throughout the world, May Day is actually the official labor holiday, commonly commemorated with large strikes, rallies and demonstrations in support of workers’ rights. It is rooted in the basic demand for an eight-hour work day.

Continued at KQED’s The Lowdown



Matthew Green

Matthew Green runs KQED’s News Education Project, a new online resource for educators and the general public to help explain the news. The project lives at kqed.org/lowdown.

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