Ukraine celebrates International Workers Day, or Labor Day, on 1 May as it has since Soviet days. Over the years, the day has lost its original significance as a “political” or labour union rally holiday for most. And many don’t really care about its past association with the USSR so long as they get a day off work.
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Ukraine is one of 142 countries where Labor Day is celebrated officially or unofficially in large numbers. In Ukraine, it is a time for cultural exhibits, springtime related activities, special concerts and fairs, and a few peaceful parades or demonstrations.
The origin of this worldwide holiday is the 4 May 1886 Haymarket Massacre during a labour protest in Chicago, USA. As the world industrialised in the mid to late 1800’s, the dismal working conditions in many factories led to a protest movement.
The Haymarket Massacre became a key moment in the movement, leading to the establishment of Labor Day, then called “International Workers Day”, to demand things like an 8-hour work day, safer working conditions, and increased pay.
Later, governments of communist-controlled countries used the holiday as a propaganda opportunity rather than to give workers an opportunity to speak up for their rights.