Labour Day is a minor holiday in some countries. But in Belarus, it is one of the most anticipated holidays of the year. Observed on 1 May, Labour Day takes on a patriotic flare all its own, quite apart from its proximity to Victory Day on 9 May and Flag Day on the second Sunday in May.
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As the world industrialised in the mid to late 1800’s, the dismal working conditions in many factories led to the establishment of Labour Day, also called “International Workers Day”, to demand things like an 8-hour work day, safer working conditions, and increased pay.
However, it’s not just workers’ rights or pride in the industries supported by Belarus’ work force that makes this holiday dear to the heart, but it’s also a time spent with family and friends at “shashlyk” barbecues in lovely Spring weather.
Shashlyk is the Russian-Belarus style of barbecuing meat. Labour Day is a time for picnics where attendees indulge in highly flavourful shashlyk grilled meats. Every family has its own special shashlyk recipes that they have tinkered to perfection and tested year after year.
Additionally, many attend concerts and public events all over Belarus on Labour Day. It is a mix of private parties and public entertainment all day long.