MAY DAY For Beginners

These few paragraphs are made with the intention of introducing younger folk to what May Day is about and what it represents, and for older ones who have forgotten. With these points and the help of Google, a clearer understanding, and the importance of this working class, institution can be had. The following will meander between May Day history and the present efforts in Glasgow of bringing May Day and its history and we would hope its future literally out of the shadows.


MAY DAY means many different things that connects to our history, our geography, our work rest and play. And the celebration of the struggles for the life and liberty we enjoy today. For the full picture a study of the “Wobblies” I.W.W is essential, the Haymarket affair and you are on your way.

May Day to the present legislators of power is treated as an anachronism, something that should slip down the memory hole and be forgotten about. We think it is the complete opposite, and something of real value, not only in the stories it has to tell of the struggles and advancement of working class people, but an institution that is as much needed now as it was in Chicago in 1886.

May Day celebrates internationalism, but an internationalism of people not of business interests. It is a celebration of cultures not of the dominant culture. It is a celebration of the union of countries, but not to the detriment of the economically weak.
May Day is about remembering folk who says no! I matter. I am worth more than a wage. About unions and the memory of struggle and sacrifice of those who fought and died to build them.

May Day is the celebration of hope solidarity and prosperity for all, the celebration of the commons and the freedom to associate. The very parks that were established to keep ordinary folk from politics, were the very places politics were fermented. They became the open university of fellow travellers, vagabonds, riff raft, orators, visionaries, that where locked out of the chambers of power, and decision making but were determined to be heard.

It is nothing new that our parks and open spaces and there use, are bureaucratised, fenced off and being used more and more for the pay-in entertainment industries. We need to ask why May Day, a tradition over a hundred years old, that is also a celebration of the open air, about farm workers, the celebration of spring and the hope for a good crop and dancing round the may pole, is held in a city (Glasgow) seeped in the history of working class struggle in a picture hall? Each year the celebration of spring and May Day procession culminates in a darkened hall. Is it any wonder many of our young folk don’t know what May Day is?

It has never been “a walk in the park” to keep these traditions alive, it has always been a struggle. A struggle that needs to be continued by and for our young people today. And part of that struggle is to bring not only our local celebration of May Day out into the light, where it belongs but to bring the powerful history of May Day in to the conscience of our young folk in a way that is useful and understandable to their own present day struggles.
So, in more recent years in Glasgow we have seen our  May Day festival commandeered and taken in-doors. An idea as ridiculous as the fact that it was allowed to happen. We say take the peoples day back into the ebb and flow of community life.

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