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Monday, May 01, 2006

May Day: tradition, politics and Melbourne 2006

To-day, May 1, is a day steeped in ancient culture and political history.
It is May Day.

Culturally, May Day is associated with ancient festivals to mark the return of the sun and the life and fertility of spring. This is a bit difficult to appreciate in the Southern Hemisphere. Here in the cold, wintry part at the bottom of Australia, the sun - far from returning - plays hide and seek. May Poles are not seen as frequently as they once were.

In Australia, May Day celebrations are political events. Having said that, however, there are only two regions which actually celebrate fully. These are the Northern Territory and Queensland. This year, May Day, May 1, falls on the first Monday of May. This means that celebrations will actually be held on the day. Queensland and the NT celebrate on the first Monday in May - and there is a public holiday on which to do so - which, needless to say, is not always May 1. Queensland refers to its celebrations as Labour Day. The NT celebrations carry the traditional name of May Day. Other places may celebrate but keep their marches to the weekends either side of May 1. These places have workers celebrations with public holidays on other days, which vary from state to state, under the heading of either Labour Day or Eight Hour Day.

With John Howard's new industrial regime established and May Day being the first day of operation of the newly established Fair Pay Commission it will be interesting to see the attendance numbers and amount of protest in Brisbane and Darwin.

May Day wreath laying ceremony. Thurs May 4, 5.30pm.
Eight Hour Day monument, Trades Hall, 54 Victoria St, Sth Carlton. Ph Len 0438 389 302.
Student strike organising committee working bee for May Day rally. Sat May 6, 1pm.
Resistance Centre, lvl 5, 407 Swanston St, city. Ph 9639 8622
Socialist Alliance May Day breakfast & toast. Sun May 7, 11am.
Druids House, lvl 5, 407 Swanston St, city.
May Day: Fight for workers' rights! Sun May 7, 1pm.
Trades Hall, cnr Lygon & Victoria sts, Carlton.