• As for May Day in India, the country witnessed the first celebration of Labour Day in 1923 in what was then Madras.


  • May 1 is a metonym for International Workers Day, a day of celebration of the working class. Behind it lies a history dating back over one-and-a-half centuries.
  • The roots of May 1 can be traced to the second part of the 19th century when there were revolutions, and organisations behind which industrial workers rallied.
  • Countries including Germany, France, England, the US saw demand for reducing work time from 12-15 hours a day to eight hours.
  • The Communist Manifesto written by Karl Marx and Engels in 1848 had a great impact on workers across various countries that were feeling the heat of industrialisation.
  • Crop failure in the 1840s led to widespread anti-feudal upheavals called ‘The Revolutions of 1848’.
  • As a result the International Workingmen’s Association, known as the First International, was born in 1864 as an umbrella association for all socialist and communist organisations, at a workers’ congregation in London.
  • After the First International dissolved in 1876 over an ideological rift, the Second International emerged in 1889 as a united outfit of socialist and labour parties.
  • It was this organisation that declared May 1 as International Workers’ Day and March 8 as International Women’s Day.
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