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How do the rest of the world celebrate Labor Day?

On May 1, many countries around the world commemorate Labor Day. Otherwise known as International Workers Day (and Araw ng Manggagawa on these shores), the national holiday honors the achievements and struggles of the working class.

In the Philippines, the first known Labor Day rite was recorded on May 1, 1913, when the Congreso Obrero de Filipinas, a coalition of 36 labor groups, gathered along Claro M. Recto Street to rally against the12-hour work days imposed by American firms.

Since then, protest marches have been a mainstay of the country’s Labor Day events, a time when members of the labor sector and militant groups air their grievances and demand for their rights, like higher wages or the end of contractualization. This year, some 8,400 police officers will be deployed in key areas around the metro to maintain security and order amid the rallies. Job fairs are also being organized all over the country, giving job seekers the opportunity to earn a living and make good use of their knowledge and skills. “Where there is no work, there is no dignity,” said Pope Francis.

My Pope checks out how other countries mark this significant day:

Also Read: How the EDSA People Power Revolution created a ripple effect across the globe

United States and Canada

In the US and Canada, Labor Day falls on the first Monday of September and signals the end of summer and the start of a new school year.

South Korea

South Koreans celebrate Workers’ Day every 1st of May. The date is a paid holiday in the country.


Originally celebrated on June 7 (the date of a milestone workers’ strike that took place in 1942), Labor Day in the Bahamas is now celebrated every first Friday of June. This is to give members of the workforce a much-appreciated long weekend. A parade of labor groups, political parties, marching bands, and performers is held in the capital city of Nassau.


Labor Day in Jamaica was originally known as Empire Day, in homage to Queen Victoria, who freed Jamaican slaves. Commemorated on the Queen’s birthday, May 24, the occasion was eventually renamed Labor Day and rescheduled to May 23, the date of a 1938 labor protest that resulted in Jamaica’s independence.


In Finland, Workers’ Day is not only an official holiday, it also marks the start of spring or vappu, a highly anticipated holiday where people go on picnics and consume lots of food and wine.


French workers are legally obliged to go on leave in this official holiday. The day marked by labor group rallies is also the day lilies of the valley are given to friends and family. This tradition was begun in 1561 by Charles IX, who at 10 years old presented ladies with the delicate white flower while waiting for his place in the throne.  



Text by Joy Rojas. Photo from Pixabay.

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