May Day in Russia

May Day in Russia

History of the holiday May Day in Russia

Despite the fact that the Labor Day was officially recognized by the Russian authorities back in 1890, the mass festivities were informal for a long time. It was only in 1901 that the first slogans were noticed, openly demanding a change of government. By 1912, the number of representatives of the proletariat who participated in the May demonstrations had reached 400,000. And already in 1917, as many as millions of people walked the streets, demanding the overthrow of the tsarist government. It was in this year that the Russian holiday became official, and demonstrations and parades began to be held openly.

In each settlement, whole work collectives walked through the streets, carrying posters reflecting the existing ideology. And the reward for the most distinguished was the opportunity to participate in the main parade of the country, which was held on Red Square in Moscow.

May Day in Russia

From a political holiday to a national one

Despite the fact that initially “May 1” had a political character, which is why it was celebrated quite strictly, over time it turned into a favorite national holiday. Slogans calling for action against the capitalist order have replaced banners with solemn congratulations.

People began to celebrate this date in a family or friendly circle, rejoicing in a two-day weekend. Traditionally, the first day was devoted to parades, at which political speeches were replaced by congratulations, large-scale processions were held, covered by television. But the second day could be spent on a fun May Day with loved ones and relax before working days.

This is how May Day, or International Workers’ Day, gradually turned from an annual political rally into a beloved popular celebration. Red flags and balloons are integral attributes of this date. The older generation recalls with pleasure what a unique atmosphere reigned at that time throughout the country. The first real warmth, the feeling of the magic of spring and the opportunity to spend two extra days off with loved ones – this is what May Day symbolized in the Soviet Union.

May Day in Russia

May Day today

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, this date is still celebrated. But the previous excitement around the holiday is gone, and the main joy from it is additional days off. The last solemn parade dedicated to May 1 was held in 1990.

Despite the fact that the holiday no longer pleases people on such a scale, its significance has not been forgotten. The famous slogan “Peace! Work! May!” still continues to sound in congratulations.

Soviet postcards: “Happy May Day!”
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