May Day, Mayday, M’aider!?!

May Day as a celebration on May 1st has a long and varied history, with a surprising number of influences, each of which added color and texture to the fête we have today. Originally, a pagan festival in the Northern Europe worshiping the return of summer, after the advent of Christianity the holiday developed some religious overtones. May Day thrived in certain cultures, yet fell into disfavor in others, perhaps in part due to the conflicting sensibilities of its pagan and christian influences.

A more recent incarnation of the holiday somewhat relates to a development project WP Valet has been working on. May 1st as International Workers’ Day,  may not be very popular in the United States, but it is embraced soundly by the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, and countries with a strong socialist sensibility. In an odd twist of history, however, International Workers’ Day finds its origin in the United States! A demonstration in Chicago in 1886 supporting the concept of an eight-hour workday turned bloody when someone threw a bomb and police opened fire on the crowd, killing a number of demonstrators, and apparently, some police officers as well. The event, which became known as the Haymarket Affair, occurred on May 3rd and in the years that followed the holiday commemorating the event was shifted to May 1st.

maiderThe context of the Haymarket Affair was a period great change as immigration was on the rise as was the continued shift from the agrarian to the urban lifestyle. While working in factories was new for many, so, too, was the understanding of what constituted acceptable or appropriate working conditions. The workers at the time organized a peaceable protestation for the purpose of gaining a stronger unified voice, but things got out of hand. One of the leaders of the rally who was executed for his participation reportedly shouted as he approached the gallows, “The time will come when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you strangle today!”

Oddly enough, WP Valet eagerly supports a revolution that began ten years ago. May 2013 is the month that WordPress celebrates its 10th anniversary of its existence! As fate would have it, too, WP Valet has been working on a development project, slated for launch on May 1st, that ties in with International Workers’ Day. The concept for the site is to provide a way for users to document their life history. Think of all the effort that workers around the world expend, and now, if so inclined, they can record their experiences as they view them. The perfect way to celebrate your life’s work!

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