Today is May Day. My fondest memories of this day are hand making May baskets filled with flowers and treats and placing them at the door of a friend and running away before they opened the door. It also included celebrating the Queen of the May and welcoming spring by dancing around the maypole.
It was another beginning of sorts as we all so looked forward to the end of school, the start of summer and lazy, crazy days without a care in the world. Ha! Kids have cares too, but I digress.
May Day was also designated as International Workers’ Day by the Socialists and Communists of the Second International (A spinoff of the First International which was an organization of socialist and labor parties begun in Paris.) to commemorate the Haymarket affair in Chicago. It basically was a rebellion of workers of industry, mostly German and Bohemian immigrants, demanding shorter hours and no change in pay. It took place on May 4, 1886, shortly after the Civil War ended and industry was beginning to go strong.
The immigrants became united and took up a battle for their cause by going on strike.. During that time of peaceful demonstration, a bomb was thrown into the crowd, killing twelve police and mortally wounding six others. Shooting ensued by other police officers who actually killed many of their fellow officers in the melee.
After that incident, the people of Chicago sided with law enforcement. Suspicion fell upon the German and Bohemian communities. Homes of suspected anarchists were raided in search of the perpetrators. Eventually eight were convicted of conspiracy.
The Haymaker Affair was the origin of International Workers Day held on May 1. A sculpture was dedicated at the site in 2004. Another piece of history we don’t hear a lot about anymore.