|The holiday is most often associated with the commemoration
of the social and economic achievements of the labor movement. The May 1st
date is used because in 1884 the American Federation of Organized Trades
and Labor Unions demanded an eight-hour workday, to come in effect as of
May 1, 1886. This resulted in the general strike and the Haymarket Riot
of 1886, but eventually also in the official sanction of the eight-hour
May Day is celebrated as Labour Day in most countries around the world, including the United Kingdom where the bank holiday isn't fixed at May 1st but instead the first Monday of May.
In the 20th century, the holiday received the official endorsement of the Soviet Union, and it is also celebrated as the Day of the International Solidarity of Workers, especially in some Communist states. Celebrations in communist countries during the Cold War era often consisted of large military parades with the latest weaponry being exhibited as well as shows of common people in support of the government.
Curiously (given the origin of the May 1st date), the United States celebrates Labor Day on the first Monday of September; May 1st is Loyalty Day in the United States. There is some suggestion that the reason for this was to avoid the commemoration of riots that had occurred in 1886. The adoption of May Day by communists and socialists as their primary holiday further cemented official resistance to sanctioning May Day labor celebrations in America.
Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands also celebrate Labour Day on different dates; that has to do with how the holiday originated in those countries.