International Workers’ Day (also known as May Day) is a celebration of the international labor movement and left-wing movements. It commonly involves organized street demonstrations and marches by working people and their labor unions throughout most of the world. May 1 is a national holiday in more than 80 countries. It is also celebrated unofficially in many other countries. While it is not a national holiday in the US, there are frequently marches and events in solidarity with the rest of the international labor movement.
For more details on the history of the the holiday, here is a link:
In Italy, as in most parts of the world that celebrate that day, it has expanded scope from a political emphasis to become a wonderful break for everyone concerned. Since May Day is on a Tuesday this year, doubtless many people will take advantage of a long weekend to travel, have a picnic, or just relax!
The Festa del Lavoro in Italy has evolved along with the history of the international labor movement.
According to Wikipedia, some of the historical highlights of that day in Italy are the following:
(If you read Italian, here is the link: http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Festa_del_lavoro )
The news of the assassination of the anarchist leaders in Chicago in 1888 had just been announced when workers from Livorno held an uprising against U.S. ships in the Livorno harbor, and then they later targeted the police headquarters, where it was believed that people had taken refuge in the U.S. Consulate.
The festival was suppressed during the Fascist period at which time it was preferred to celebrate a festival of Italian labor on April 21 to coincide with the birthday of Rome (sometimes referred to as “Christmas in Rome” ) - but the traditional May 1st date was restored shortly after the end of the war, in 1945.
In 1947 the celebration was marred at Portella della Ginestra when the followers of Salvatore Giuliano fired on a procession of about two thousand workers in a group, killing eleven and wounding fifty.
Since 1990, the Italian trade unions CGIL, CISL and UIL have organized an annual concert in Rome to commemorate May 1. Each year the concert is attended by hundreds of thousands of people.
Enjoy May Day with a taste of Italian dolce vita!