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Labour Day

Labour Day 2018 and 2019

Labour Day in Norway is celebrated on May 1st each year and is designed to celebrate the working class. The date was chosen as International Day to commemorate the Haymarket Affair, a worker rally that ended in violence in Chicago. It is an official public holiday.

20181 MayTueLabour Day
20191 MayWedLabour Day

History of the Holiday

Several socialist-dominated organisations adopted May 1 as International Labour Day, the day that the United States had originally chosen to celebrate its own workforce. Many in the organisation believed that joining Europe and the United States in celebrating the working class would help the world merge into one labour movement and end capitalism. For many years, Europe and America celebrated Labour Day on May Day, or May 1st. In 1882, unions in New York began to celebrate Labour Day in September as a late-summer tradition. It was not a national holiday, but it grew in popularity as it was not connected in any way to socialism. In 1894, President Grover Cleveland, who saw the September holiday as a way to reward the working class without endorsing radicalism established Labour Day as a federal holiday on the first Monday of September in the United States.

Haymarket Affair

Although the United States moved the celebration to September, other areas of the world, including Norway, kept the holiday on May 1st. This was as a remembrance of the Haymarket Affair. On May 4, 1886, a labour rally was held in Chicago in Haymarket Square. During what was supposed to be a peaceful demonstration promoting fair treatment of labourers, someone threw a bomb and a policeman was killed. This set off a deadly riot that led to the hanging of four labour leaders on questionable charges.

Celebrations and Traditions

In Norway, many people in the country participate in parades in order to draw attention to political issues that concern them as well as to pay recognition to the working class. In many large cities, Labour Day events are organised by the labour unions themselves in an effort to promote unity among the workforce. Often, Labour Day celebrations in Norway have a strong political message. The Labour Party often uses the holiday to kick off election campaigns or push for more labour reforms. In working class neighbourhoods, they organise sing-a-longs and rallies. There are community breakfasts prior to parades and concerts provided to encourage support of the Labour Party agenda.