History of International Labour Day


What started as International Workers’ Day in Chicago in May 1886 further spread to other parts of the world, India being no exception. The first celebration of Labour Day in India took place in Chennai on May 1, 1923. Organised by the Labour Kisan Party of Hindustan, the red flag, an emblem of the labour class, was also used in India.

The party’s leader, Singaravelu Chettiar, conducted ‘May Day’ celebrations in two places — one at a beach opposite Madras High court and the other at the Triplicane beach. He later presided over the meeting and a resolution declaring a holiday on the occasion was passed here. Certain other pointers explaining non-violent principles of the party, request for some financial aid and achieving independence for the workers of the world were discussed, too.

A nationwide public holiday, it highlights the labour movements for communist and socialist political parties. Known by various names like Kamgar Din (Hindi), Kamgar Divas (Marathi) and Uzhaipalar Dinam (Tamil), the ‘Antarrashtriya Shramik Diwas’.


 Until the official declaration in 1917, Russians celebrated the day illegally. Post this year, these celebrations were boycotted by Left Socialist Revolutionaries, anarchists and Mensheviks. It went on to become a significant official holiday of the Soviet Union, which they celebrated with parades in major cities. Since 1992, it is officially termed as ‘The Day of Spring and Labour’ and is a major holiday.

In Japan, while there’s no officially designated holiday on the day, most people take their day off since it falls between other national holidays. Starting from April 29, the ‘Golden Week’ begins. This day is celebrated as Showa Day, the birthday of Emperor Showa, who reigned between 1926 and 1989. May 3, 4 and 5 are celebrated as Constitution Memorial Day, Greenery Day and Children’s Day, respectively.

In New Zealand and some parts of Australia, this day is celebrated on the first Monday of October, while in US and Canada, it takes place on the first Monday of September

Every year, a theme is planned by the members of the International Labour Day, this year being ‘Celebrating the international labour movement’. This theme becomes the centre point of the celebrations and activities like crossword puzzle, anagram puzzle, word search puzzle, code cracker puzzle, word scramble puzzle take place.

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