La Festa dei Lavoratori: Labor Day in Italy

Honor LaborMay 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.

An interesting Calabrian sky on Flickr

What do you have planned?

Happy Labor Day Weekend to those celebrating
and buon weekend a tutti!

P.S. Check out Judy’s Pickles at Over a Tuscan Stove
for La Buona Cucina Americana!

19 Beans of Wisdom to “La Festa dei Lavoratori: Labor Day in Italy”
  1. Gil

    Hope that you had a Happy Labor Day even though you you obviously worked typing your posts. I find out about a lot of Italian holidays from some of the online news sites if there are no new posts and it isn’t a weekend.

    Yeah being self-employed sometimes means working holidays…although it’s not so bad b/c then we can take days off when everyone else is working and beat the crowds πŸ˜‰

  2. 05.02.2008

    Two pontes in a row… my my, aren’t we spoiled?! πŸ˜‰ My oldest was supposed to go to school this morning (can you believe it?), but as I type this, she is still asleep in bed. I doubt anyone from her class planned on going this morning. My husband wants to go to the beach this Sunday and I told him that he’s NUTS. Can you imagine all of the traffic coming home on Sunday? BLECH… I’d rather stay home!

    Giulia’s last blog post..Open Wide

    Couldn’t agree more Giulia–who wants to fight with all that traffic and all those people?! And no, I can’t imagine any kids were in school today….

  3. 05.02.2008

    Oh, no doubt, I’ll be laboring away this weekend on the usual chores with brief cat naps in a sunny spot on the porch!

    Homebody at Heart’s last blog post..Pienza delle Piante

    Cat naps in the sun…ah…sounds lovely to me! I’m ignoring the chores part. πŸ˜‰

  4. Andie Summerkiss

    Holiday is no holiday when you have to squeeze your way through thousands of people. Smart decision to stay home.

    I did stay home and cook all day long. Trying desperately to improve my cooking skills before moving to another country πŸ˜€

    Andie Summerkiss’s last blog post..Labor Day

    Great idea Andie! Hope you’re enjoying the process πŸ™‚

  5. 05.02.2008

    I am celebrating Labour Day in true worked fashion by…working all the way through πŸ™‚

    Leanne’s last blog post..Labour Day – well for some

    Those in the hospitality industry really don’t get those pontes like everyone else, do they? πŸ˜‰ Hope the weather treats you well at least.

  6. 05.02.2008

    I’m slowly making my way back into reading and posting again after spending the bulk of the past week working on things pertaining to my aunt’s funeral. As of this moment now, I’m all caught up on your posts but boy, do I ever have a whole heck of a lot of reading still ahead of me after being absent for the past five days! I’m gonna need my own private “Labor Day” holiday to recuperate from so much reading.

    Jeni Hill Ertmer’s last blog post..Slowly Returning

    Oh Jeni I hope you’re taking it easy after all that stress…sometimes blog-reading is good to unwind πŸ™‚

  7. 05.02.2008

    A view like that, I would stay home as well.

    Enjoy your long weekend.

    running42k’s last blog post..Are you even listening?

    Thanks! I’ll do my best πŸ™‚

  8. 05.02.2008

    Yes, I think you two should take a vacation to a location of urban blight, just for contrast, just to get away from the stress of your everyday lives.

    Kidding, of course. Isn’t it awesome to live every day in the place you’d most want to go on vacation? Kind of puts a different spin on the whole idea of work, doesn’t it?

    Very true Sara. I’m quite lucky to have the work I do and to be able to live where I do…if only my family would move closer πŸ˜‰

  9. 05.02.2008

    I’m staying home and struggling in the garden accompanied by 7 cats and a hen. Even though I accomplish a lot each day it’s never really enough, but this is the season it is best done. I couldn’t even enjoy the weekend on a beach knowing the graminia continued to burrow under the flowers while I was away.

    To amuse myself I think of different ways to say “la schiena Γ¨ rotta” in Italian, and I am planning a post on death and injury in the workplace and how I see Italians creating that themselves. Photos included! Muckraker me.

    Judith in Umbria’s last blog post..Made in America: Bread and Butter Pickles

    Very much looking forward to your post. And how can you go wrong with that company you’re keeping?!

  10. 05.02.2008

    May is a birthday month for me and when I go broke.
    I too will be staying at home.

    Lucy’s last blog post..HAPPY BIRTHDAY MARY JO!

    Aw going broke is no fun! I hope you enjoy your time at home anyway πŸ˜‰

  11. 05.02.2008

    Sounds like you have the perfect place to relax!

    I’m working on Broadway tonight; tomorrow I cover the Kentucky Derby; Sunday I pack for my trip to Maine.

    Devon Ellington’s last blog post..Racing Ink

    Now *that’s* a weekend! Enjoy Devon!

  12. Maryann

    I wish you and yours a nice holiday. Take in some rays for me! It’s cold, damp, and rainy here in New York today πŸ™‚

    Maryann’s last blog post..Pastiera di Grano (Easter Wheat Pie)

    Thanks Maryann! Was cloudy here in the morning, but we had sun in the afternoon–I have even higher hopes for the weekend πŸ™‚

  13. 05.02.2008

    Very glad to see that the working classes are remembered and celebrated!
    I had no idea there was a labor day in any other country. I always learn so much here… including improving my Italian…

    Hope you have a wonderful, restful weekend.
    I want to hear all about it and see photos soon!

    *LOVE* this blue sea and sky shot… makes me wistful to sit there with you and sip tea and talk and watch the waves roll in.


    Scarlett & Viaggiatore

    Wanderlust Scarlett’s last blog post..The Road Ahead


    Wish you were here too πŸ™‚

  14. 05.03.2008

    Well, contrary to the fact that there are thousands of laborers in Dubai, May 1st was not a holiday!! What a disappointment. Glad to hear you had a loong weekend!

    Grace in Dubai’s last blog post..the housekeeping meme

    Huh, you need to do some lobbying Grace!

  15. 05.03.2008

    You know what I love about your blog? Well, besides everything else that I love about your blog that is. It is that I’m learning Italian one phrase at a time with your “sign offs” and what not! πŸ˜‰

    Happy Labor Day to you.

    Karina’s last blog post..Photo Hunt #16 – Time

    Just trying to do my part Karina…one Italian word at a time!

  16. 05.04.2008

    My weekend was insane yesterday and now… bliss. I’ve finished my school obligations and now have to kick up my freelance work, but today, I’m just catching up with whatever I please, and until June 1, I’m reading whatever I please – no classics for school and no detective novels/research for work. Yay. I hope you and P are enjoying the mountains and beach. Lovely.

    jen of a2eatwrite’s last blog post..Timing

    Sometimes I miss school (going, not teaching) for that very reason…the feeling of FREEDOM when it’s done for the year. Enjoy your time Jen (as if I had to tell you that) πŸ˜‰

  17. 05.05.2008

    Hi from a fellow expat!

    I miss European Labor Day… it’s just not the same in Canada. Here, people take it as a day off in Sept. — French take it as the start of the demonstration season!

    Ciao Zhu! Nice to see you here πŸ™‚ One of the best parts of being an expat is seeing the different “feels” to the same holidays, isn’t it? Hope you get to be in France for Labor Day again soon πŸ˜‰

  18. Buy Eurail Pass

    Well I celebrated along with you Europeans in Germany even though I’m Canadian. So what did I do…nothing but drink beer and relax in the sun!

    I think we did wine, but yup, pretty much the same here πŸ˜‰

  1. [...] Espresso has some good information on May Day, one of Italy’s biggest national [...]...



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