May 1 is Labor Day or May Day in most of Europe (other countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand celebrate in either September or October).
It is a day to celebrate workers, especially all of those who came before us, fighting for rights like an eight-hour work day and safety regulations. Read more about the international holiday’s origins here and here.
Italy’s celebration is known as La Festa dei Lavoratori and actually has ancient roots in “Il Calendimaggio,” a holiday connected with agricultural cycles and still celebrated in some regions today.
Farmers and seasonal workers traditionally took the day off, ate, drank, and danced together on the first day of May, forgetting — for a few hours — the long days of summertime hard work that awaited them.
In modern times, the day is more linked to the common worker, who, lest we forget, still needs a voice and representation in the political structures of every country. Italy, in particular, has a long way to go regarding worker’s safety with an average of nearly 1,400 deaths every year because of an industrial or workplace accident.
May we also remember those victims this weekend as well.
Since May 1 fell on a Thursday this year (2008), Italians will make il ponte (a bridge) from the holiday to the weekend and take off today as well for a nice loooooong weekend.
Many Italians travel during the holiday; the Corriere della Sera estimates that 12 million cars will be on the road this weekend. Others, like P and me, stay at home and relax because hey, we have the mountains and the sea right at our doorstep all the time anyway.
So a relaxing weekend ahead for us it is.
What do you have planned?
Happy Labor Day Weekend to those celebrating
and buon weekend a tutti!