International Workers’ Day 2021: History, Facts, Quotes, Significance

The first day of May is celebrated every year as International Workers’ Day. It is also known as Labour Day or May Day and it celebrates the contribution and achievement of workers in promoting the international labour movement. The International Workers’ Day is celebrated as Labour Day in most countries of the world barring few exceptions.

History of the International Workers’ Day

Why is International Workers’ Day on 01 May?

Rapid expansion of Industrialization in the 19th century led to deterioration of workers’ living conditions. On 01 May 1886 a general strike was declared by the labour union to demand better working conditions and eight-hour workday. On 04 May 1886, a bombing took place at a labour demonstration at Haymarket Square in Chicago, United States. In the aftermath of this bombing police officers and civilians were killed. The entire episode came to be internationally known as Haymarket Affair. Thus, 01 May was chosen as the International Workers’ Day to mark the anniversary of the Haymarket Affair.

international workers day

One of the first references of International Workers’ Day comes from the sixth congress of Second International, an organization of socialist and labour parties held in Amsterdam in the year 1904. The congress called on — “all Social Democratic Party organizations and trade unions of all countries to demonstrate energetically on the First of May for the legal establishment of the eight-hour day, for the class demands of the proletariat, and for universal peace”.

May Day is Traditionally Older

International Workers’ Day is often referred to as “May Day”. However, it would be interesting for you to know that the original tradition of May Day is in fact altogether different and way older. May day, traditionally, refers to the spring festival which is being celebrated annually since ancient times across many European cultures.

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Labour Day

While for most countries, Labour Day is synonymous to International Workers’ Day, there are some countries which observe it on certain other days. Some prominent countries in this regard and their Labour Days are as follows:

Country Labour Day
Australia Varies State-wise

  • First Monday in March (Western Australia)
  • Second Monday in March (Victoria & Tasmania)
  • Fourth Monday in March (Christmas Island)
  • First Monday in May (Queen ISland & Northern Territory)
  • First Monday in October (Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales & South Australia)
Bangladesh 24 April (Requested)
Bahamas First Friday in June (Traditionally, on 07 June)
Canada First Monday in September
Jamaica 24 May
Kazakhstan Last Sunday of September
New Zealand Fourth Monday in October
Trinidad and Tobago 19 June
United States First Monday of September

Quotes for International Workers’ Day

“God give me work, till my life shall end And life, till my work is done.” — Epitaph

“The lady–bearer of this–says she has two sons who want to work. Set them at it, if possible. Wanting to work is so rare a merit that it should be encouraged.” — Abraham Lincoln

“It is labor indeed that puts the difference on everything.” — John Locke

“God sells us all things at the price of labor.” — Leonardo da Vinci

“Without labor nothing prospers.” — Sophocles

“He who labors diligently need never despair; for all things are accomplished by diligence and labor.” — Menander

“Labor was the first price, the original purchase-money that was paid for all things. It was not by gold or by silver, but by labor, that all wealth of the world was originally purchased.” — Adam Smith

“The end of labor is to gain leisure.” — Aristotle

“If all the cars in the United States were placed end to end, it would probably be Labor Day Weekend.” — Doug

“Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.” — Ovid

“A mind always employed is always happy. This is the true secret, the grand recipe, for felicity.” — Thomas Jefferson

“Sometimes it’s important to work for that pot of gold. But other times it’s essential to take time off and to make sure that your most important decision in the day simply consists of choosing which color to slide down on the rainbow.” — Douglas Pagels

“Labor rids us of three great evils; tediousness, vice, and poverty.”

“There is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem.” — Booker T. Washington

“If any man tells you he loves America, yet hates labor, he is a liar. If any man tells you he trusts America, yet fears labor, he is a fool.” — Abraham Lincoln

“Physical labor not only does not exclude the possibility of mental activity, but improves and stimulates it.” — Leo Tolstoy

“The man who doesn’t relax and hoot a few hoots voluntarily, now and then, is in great danger of hooting hoots and standing on his head for the edification of the pathologist and trained nurse, a little later on.” — Elbert Hubbard

“The only liberty an inferior man really cherishes is the liberty to quit work, stretch out in the sun, and scratch himself.” — H.L. Mencken

“Man is so made that he can only find relaxation from one kind of labor by taking up another.” — Anatole France

“If wars are eliminated and production is organized scientifically, it is probable that four hours’ work a day will suffice to keep everybody in comfort.” — Bertrand Russell

“There is nothing laudable in work for work’s sake.” — John Stuart Mill

“Labor is the only prayer that Nature answers.” — Robert Green Ingersoll

“A bad day at work is better than a good day in hell.” — Scott Johnson

“Work keeps at bay three great evils: boredom, vice, and need.” — Voltaire

“We must learn to live together as brothers or we are going to perish together as fools.” — Martin Luther King

“There is precious little hope to be got out of whatever keeps us industrious, but there is a chance for us whenever we cease work and become star-gazer.” — H.M. Tomlinson

“From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” — Karl Marx

“Labor Day is a glorious holiday because your child will be going back to school the next day.It would have been called Independence Day, but that name was already taken.” — Bill Dodds

“A man is not idle because he is absorbed in thought. There is a visible labor and there is an invisible labor.” — Victor Hugo

“All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.” — Martin Luther King

“Heaven is blessed with perfect rest but the blessing of earth is toil.” — Henry Van Dyke

“In proportion as the principle of the division of labor is more extensively applied, the workman becomes more weak, more narrow-minded, and more dependent. The art advances, the artisan recedes.” — Alexis De Tocqueville

“In any given group, the most will do the least and the least the most.” — Merle P. Martin

“Work isn’t to make money; you work to justify life.” — Marc Chagall