Sunday, 6 May 2007

May Day

Marchers leave Hyde Park. Lots more photos at Sydney Daily Photo Extra

Today Sydney has its traditional May Day rally and march, held on the Sunday closest to May 1. Is May Day as a trade union / workers' festival celebrated where you are?
In NSW, we have a public holiday for "Labour Day" in October, which celebrates the introduction of the 8 hour working day (ha!) , won first by striking masons at Holy Trinity Church, in Millers Point, in October 1855. The major success came in 1856 in Melbourne, where the 8 hour day was won across the building trades.
The first Monday in October holiday was gazetted across all NSW in 1963, not without controversy in areas like Newcastle, which had a strong May Day tradition.
Read more about Newcastle here.
(The ACT and South Australia share the NSW Labour Day date; in Victoria, it's the 2nd Monday in March, as well as in Tasmania, where it's called eight Hour Day; in Western Australia, it's the 1st Mon in March. Only Queensland and the Northern territory have their Labour Day holiday on the 1st Monday of May.)
PS - for pedants, "Labour" is sometimes spelled the 'American' way - Labor - in Australia, because that was the spelling adopted by the Australian Labor Party in 1912. According to the ALP's own history, it was because of the influence of the American labor movement.
Maybe we're as schizophrenic about the spelling of Labour/Labor as about celebrating Labour Day/May Day?


  1. Your photograph certainly caught the march and the people in it all celebrating May Day. A nice photograph, Sally.

    How times change. When I was in the Army, (1953-1956) the words, "May Day" meant a lock down of the Army base and nobody could enter or leave.

    I am anxious for you to see the Rose-Breasted Grosbeak that came to Brookville, Ohio yesterday. It is the first one I have seen since we moved here 44 years ago.

  2. Good capture of the moment.

  3. Sally, in Spain we celebrate Mother's day each first Sunday of May. Labour's day is 1st May, and Madrid' day is 2nd May... that's lot to celebrate!
    Your parade seems to be amusing, and a nice weather!

  4. To answer your last question: a resounding YES! I am very confused ;-).
    Happy May Day,whenever you celebrate it!

  5. LOL regarding the spelling!

    Hadn't realised (realized ?) there was a May Day in addition to Labour Day, so I've learnt something today!

  6. Inevitably, but none the less sadly, Sally, May Day long ago lost much of its earlier significance. Societal changes have resulted in it becoming more of a fringe group occasion, giving paricipants an opportunity to feel wiser and more noble than the "common herd" who don't share the marchers more "insightful" perspectives.

    The May Day celebrations have reached a point where the organisers might well sometimes feel like sending up a mayday signal --- in the other sense of the term.