Festa del Lavoro – International Worker’s Day
Celebrated May 1, this holiday finds its origins from the same set of events as Labor Day that is celebrated in the US. While studying the history I have found most interesting that while the events are the same, there are some details left out in the history of Labor Day. These events are the basis for one of the most celebrated International remembrances and here in the US not only do we not study in detail the events but we have also changed the day on which it is celebrated.
The question of “why do we care” is answered in that what we do, and believe, today is strongly influenced by our culture. Whether we know it or not we are the sum of those that came before us and we can better face the future if we understand why things are the way they are.
The International Worker’s Day began in 1882, on September 5. The Knights of Labor, in New York, organized a demonstration to promote worker’s rights to an eight hour day. The slogan was “Eight hours for work, eight hours for play, and eight hours for sleep,” another forgotten principle way of doing business. In 1884 the Knights voted to demonstrate every year on the same day to promote worker’s rights.
In 1886, May 1 officially became the day following events in Chicago. In a peaceful demonstration the police fired on the crowd killing 8 people. In the following days strikes and demonstrations broke out across the country. The police fired on crowds killing numerous demonstrators. The then president, Grover Cleveland, was so concerned that he immediately banned the “socialist” movement ordering his troops to disband demonstrations with any means necessary. The police were rather effective killing hundreds of workers.
In 1891, the international conference in Brussels made May 1 the International Worker’s Day to remember the lives lost among those first demonstrators. In Italy, as in most of the world this day is celebrated to propose their grievances. Labor day has been interrupted in Italy, as done by Grover Cleveland in the US, one time. During the Fascist rule in WWII, Mussolini prohibited the celebration.
Now why is this important? Other than that I find most interesting that we do not remember those so revered by the rest of the world, should you find yourself in Italy during this period, take the day and go to the beach. Public transport will be limited and should you be in a large city there will be demonstrations. Hotels and restaurants will have limited personnel and museums will be closed. If you are adventurous and in a big city it is impressive to see the tens of thousands of people marching in the street but remain on the side, do not get involved. I have never seen one become violent but there is always that chance.
Tags: Festa del Lavoro Labor Day Travel Italy