Saturday, May 2, 2015

May Day



Yesterday was May Day. Nothing special—except that here in Winnipeg we’re having awesome weather. Buds are budding, dandelions are bursting with brilliance, and birds are tweeting their little hearts out.  So nature’s celebrating May, but in Manitoba, there’s no official holiday on May 1st

In many parts of the world, however, May 1st is International Workers Day. You can read an interesting piece in Time about its inception, and about how we in North America, showing our lack of solidarity for anything communist, chose September for our Labour Day holiday.

But before communists and workers chose May 1st as their day, this time of year was already being celebrated. Pagan cultures celebrated Walpurgis and then later Christian cultures continued the tradition. May Day has honored spring—with dancing, maypoles, flowers and pretty dresses—for centuries.


International Workers’ Day, however, isn’t quite so pretty. Demonstrations, military parades and speeches are the norm.  In 1992 the former USSR renamed International Workers’ Day. It's now called "The Day of Spring and Labour."

This year, May Day rallies were banned in the Ukrainian cities of  Kiev and Kharkiv. However, in Russia, on the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, there’s to be an especially big parade planned for May 8th,  which is a holiday called Victory Day.

I have a chapter in my upcoming book, Broken Stone, about a May Day parade. It’s 1931 and there’s a definite military air to the Soviet-style celebration. Not a good day for kulaks, or their children.

Back here in Winnipeg, I welcome this new season. Time for biking, gardening, and outdoor eating! 

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