Posted by: David Stewart | September 4, 2010

America’s celebration of socialism

I’m currently working with a team that stretches from Shanghai to London. Today I sent out a little email reminding the team that those of us who are in the US will be taking the Monday off for holiday.

And then, for the non-Americans, I decided to explain what we were celebrating. Here’s what I wrote:

This holiday celebrates labor unions and trade unions in the US. Labor Day was first celebrated in 1882 in the US and was made a national holiday in 1894. It was made a holiday after a big labor strike of railroad workers ended with the death of some of the workers at the hand of the US Military. The Congress quickly made it a holiday, even before the strike was over.

I find it interesting that the rest of the world celebrates their Labor Day on May 1 (International Workers’ Day). But International Workers’ Day is celebrated on May 1 because in 1886, in Chicago there was another incident where workers and police died. The US President didn’t want the US Labor Day on May 1 for fear of stirring up negative emotions.

Of course today, most Americans learned all of this in school, but don’t think about it now. All of us pretty much think of it as the unofficial end of summer, because most kids go back to school after their summer holiday.

Because a lot of my team is in Communist China, I left out the following bit because the irony is just too rich:

However, May 1 is still very strongly associated with socialism and communism worldwide. But why was May 1 chosen by the rest of the world? Because of an event that happened in the US! By distancing our Labor Day from May 1, we avoid the claim that we are celebrating socialism and communism.

But hey, I say, get over it! Enjoy your Socialism Day!

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