History Of The May Day Holiday

Of all the many holidays celebrated over the year, perhaps the one which most people have no idea why it is celebrated is May day holiday. May day also known as Labor Day and International Workers Day is generally understood by people to be a day where workers are given a widespread day off to relax, let their hair down and put their feet up. But what exactly is May day holiday about? Let’s find out now!

History Of May Day Holiday

In America during the late nineteenth century, the working class had been protesting to have an 8hour working day instead of the 10-16 hour work day they had been working. During this period, it was not uncommon to see people dying and getting injured while on the job and this was due to the long working hours combined with the unsafe and  severe work conditions. In light of this, in the 1860’s, workers were pushing to have their workday shorten but their salaries intact. It wasn’t until the late 1880’s that organized labor was able to garner enough strength to declare the 8-hour workday.


At the 1884 national convention of  the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions in Chicago, the union proclaimed that “eight hours shall constitute a legal day’s labor from and after May 1, 1886. On May 1, 1886, more than 300,000 workers in 13,000 businesses across the United States walked off their jobs in the first May Day celebration in history. More and more workers continued to walk off their jobs until the numbers swelled to nearly 100,000 and quite unexpectedly peace prevailed. However as the protests kept building and heating up for months, it reached a boiling point as police shut into a crowd of protesters, killing a fair number of them. This then escalated to a wave of violence which swept across America.

So taking into consideration that people were shot and killed so that workers in America and indeed the world all over could have an 8 hour work day; also acknowledging the fact that homes with families in them were burned to the ground so we could have Saturday as part of the weekend and more, we cannot trivialize the fact our current liberty will still be a wish if not for these people. People fought and sacrificed their lives for the rights and dignities we enjoy today and we must continue to remember them. This is why we celebrate May Day.

Is May Day/Workers Day A Public Holiday Worldwide?

May Day, or Labor Day, is a public holiday in many countries worldwide. It usually occurs around May 1, but the date varies across countries. It is associated with the start of spring as well as the celebration of workers. Ironically, although May Day originated from America, the official Labor Day in America is celebrated on the first Monday in September.

May Day/Workers Day In Nigeria


On May Day, workers in Nigeria usually converge at the stadium to commemorate this public holiday. It is a recognized holiday all workers must observe as schools and offices nationwide are closed for the day. The president of the Nigeria Labour Congress addresses workers on this day and this has been a tradition for decades.