May Day

 May 1 - May Day (International Workers' Day or Labor Day).

Where? Many countries worldwide, in this article: Ukraine.

Its meaning and history.
 On the one hand, it has been a traditional Spring holiday in many countries for a very long time (the Floralia, a festival of Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers, was celebrated in the Roman Empire). On the other hand, 1st May was chosen as the date for the International Workers' Day by the Socialists and Communists in Chicago in 1889. Now it is a national public holiday in many countries and people prefer to go to the countryside and have a good rest on this day. In many cities and villages in Austria it is very common to set up a “Maibaum” the evening before the 1st of May as a sign of fertility.

How it's celebrated.
 In the Soviet countries (Ukraine was one of the 15 Soviet Republics), it was a three-day holiday. The traditional “May demonstrations” took place on 1st May. People put their best clothes on and decorated the streets with red flags, balloons, flowers and posters with slogans “Peace! Labour! May!“ Young children happily went along with their parents. May Day became the occasion for large military parades in Moscow's Red Square; the top leaders of the Kremlin greeted the people. This parade was broadcasted on TV all over the country. It became a symbol of that period. After the collapse of the Soviet Union these parades stopped but the public holiday is still celebrated as a Spring day. So people take the opportunity to go outside, organize picnics, have barbecues and have a lovely time with their friends.

Family traditions. Tatyana Kostorna came to Villach from Great Britain but she is an Ukrainian from Luhansk, Eastern Ukraine. “Many Ukrainians wait for May Day to go to the “dacha” (a villa or a house in the countryside)”, Tatyana tells. “There is a lot to do in the garden and people try to escape from the busy city life atmosphere. When I lived in Luhansk, we did the same. Those who don't have a dacha, go to the forest, the river bank or even to the city park with food and drinks, they make a fire and relax. Other people prefer to travel during the May vacation”. Tatyana says that she likes this tradition and she is glad that May day is a public holiday in Austria too. “My husband, my daughter Anna-Maria and I like travelling. Every May Day we think about an interesting route and go on a journey. I guess it's a paradox, to have a vacation on Labor Day, but it’s really great. We wish you a lot of fun on May Day - be happy!”.


Demonstrations with the slogans "Peace! Labor! May!" were popular during the Soviet period (1).

Tatyana and her family prefer to travel on the May holiday (2, 3, 4).

Text: Vita Vitrenko