May Day in Serbia and the world


May Day in Serbia and the world

In Serbia, May Day is known for camping, barbecuing, and socializing in nature. However, this holiday has an entirely different symbolism and meaning.

During the second half of the 19th century, the position of workers around the world was imperfect. There were no clearly defined rights of workers and obligations of employers, the amount of the minimum wage, the length of working hours, state and industrialists left them at their mercy. This situation led to the development of the awareness of the working class about the need to unite them to exercise fundamental human and worker's rights.

On the other hand, employers were not inclined to meet justified workers' demands, which provoked mass protests and clashes on the city streets. In 1866, about forty thousand of the workers of one factory organized a protest in the city square in Chicago and started a strike to fight for the eight-hour working hours. It was a peculiar uprising of the exploited working class, which performed hard physical work without working hours and days off, against the capitalists, who were gaining momentum. The worker's demands were expressed in the slogan "three eights" - eight hours of work, eight hours of rest, and eight hours of social and cultural life. Although workers planned to have peaceful events, police reacted by shooting at the gathered workers on May 4, after someone threw a bomb when the police officers securing the protest were killed and injured. The number of victims has never been made public. Red carnations were elected to symbolize the blood that workers shed that day.

May Day has been declared International Labor Day

 As part of the anniversary of the protest in Chicago, three years later, in 1869, at the Congress of the Second International in Paris, May Day was declared an International Labor Day. Since that day, this date has been celebrated around the world. However, it is interesting that Americans celebrate Labor Day on the first Monday in September. May Day is a homage to the efforts of workers who fought for the working conditions we have today.

The celebration of May Day underwent various changes

The celebration of this date has undergone various historical and social changes. Until the establishment of the first communist and socialist states, workers protest market Labor Day worldwide. In capitalist countries, the tradition of workers' protests has been maintained today, while in communist and socialist governments, such as the former Yugoslavia, the holiday was declared a state holiday, believing that workers' rights were fully respected, so May 1 became Labor Day. Slovenes and Croats were the first to celebrate May Day as a holiday in the Balkans. The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia introduced May Day as a national holiday, which is logical, having in mind that it was communism that propagated the rights and freedoms of the working class. May Day is a holiday when workers should show solidarity and express their demands for improvement. Today, it is more associated with entertainment. May Day is celebrated in the form of reveille in nature with plenty of food and alcohol, or a few days off, as opposed to the rest of the world, where they celebrate it with public gatherings, walks, and parades in an atmosphere of workers' rights.

Djurdjevdan reveille or May Day reveille?

With the imposition of this holiday, the Djurdjevdan reveille has fallen into oblivion, that is, the multitude of Djurdjevdan customs and "hajduk" traditions that the Serbian people respected until the arrival of communism.

Djurdjevdan is known among our people as the "Hajduk Meeting". However, just as we replaced Christmas with the celebration of the New Year, Materice as a traditional orthodox mothers day with the International Women's Day - eight of march, so the reveille of Djurdjevdan was replaced with the May Day reveille. The people's memory of one of the most beautiful holidays, by which Serbs differ from other peoples, is slowly being lost. While Serbian princes and kings ruled our country, girls and children went to nature early on the Djurdjevdan Day, washed in springs and streams, sang patriotic and traditional songs, made wreaths of wildflowers, played and had fun, while the hosts went to churches and monasteries in the morning. Then everyone went to their homes for Djurdjevdan lunch and celebrations. That day, the teachers would take the children from the schools to nature and celebrate the awakening of nature, the beginning of spring, and the "Hajduk meeting".

Today it seems that capitalism led to the imperfect position of workers, and once again, their rights are increasingly threatened, especially in countries in transition. Remember, reveille in Serbia has nothing to do with the May Day holiday. Reveille is already a much older, traditional, more spiritual, and meaningful holiday for the Serbian people.

Aleksandra Đ. Andrejić
Aleksandra Đ. Andrejić
Attorney at law
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