1 May, discover Labour Day holiday in Italy | ELLCI

Holiday in Italy: 1 May 

1 may labour day

Holiday in Italy: 1 May 


May 1  Labor Day in Italy is a national public holiday as in almost every country in the world, in most cases known as “International Workers’ Day” or a similar name. Some countries celebrate Labor Day on other dates that are significant to them, such as the United States and Canada, which celebrate Labor Day on the first Monday in September.


The date of May 1 was officially chosen in 1889 by the Marxist International Socialist Congress, which met in Paris and established the Second International as a successor to the previous International Workers’ Association. However, the origin of May 1st dates back to events a few years earlier in the United States.

Let’s see why May 1st is Labor Day in Italy and how much this celebration is transversal to different nations in the world.


The history behind Labour Day in Italy

In the mid-nineteenth century, working conditions in factories, in the United States and Europe, did not provide for safety protections and the working hours were not well regulated or not respected, so much so that it could even go up to 16 working hours a day. It was from Australia that, in 1855, the motto ‘Eight hours for work, eight hours for rest and eight hours for what you will spread, which paved the way for workers’ claims.


“Eight hours labour, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest”

Photo: Wikicommons

Eleven years later, in September 1866, the First International, meeting in Geneva proposed: “eight hours as the legal limit of working activity”.

A great struggle movement on the eight-hour issue was developed primarily by US workers’ organizations. Some states actually adopted laws that restricted the working hours but with exceptions that prevented their effective application.

In 1884, the Federation of American Trade Unions established May 1, 1886, as the deadline to implement the working day of a maximum of 8 hours without suffering wage cuts.

On May 1, 1886, a Saturday, then a working day, twelve thousand factories in the United States joined the strike, involving four hundred thousand workers. In Chicago alone, they went on strike and eighty thousand took part in the great procession giving life to the largest procession ever seen. Chicago was one of the main centres of industry and the labour movement.

 The strike on May 1st was part of several days of protest. On May 3, a strike at the McCormick Reaper implant in town turned violent; the next day, a peaceful meeting in Haymarket Square became even more so.

When the police ordered the dispersion of the hitherto peaceful group, a bomb exploded in the police ranks, injuring about sixty and killing seven policemen. The police then opened fire on the crowd, killing several men and wounding 200. It was thus that the Haymarket tragedy became part of the history of the United States.

News of the tragic events in Chicago reached the entire American continent and then spread to Europe as well.

In 1889, the International Socialist Conference declared that May 1 would be International Labor Day in commemoration of the Haymarket affair.

It was decided that “a large demonstration would be organized for a set date, so that simultaneously in all towns and cities, workers would ask the public authorities to reduce the working day to eight hours by law”.


Lunch atop a Skyscraper, Charles C. Ebbets

Photo: Wikicommons


The first celebration of May Day in Italy took place in 1890.

In August 1891, the congress of the International, held in Brussels, made the anniversary permanent.

During the Fascist period, in Italy May 1st was abolished, replaced by an “Italian Labor Day” celebrated on April 21, the legendary date of foundation of the Capital, in 753 BC. C.

Six days after the liberation of Italy (learn everything about 25 April in Italy), in 1945 it was re-established on May 1st as a Labor and Workers’ Day and in 1947 it officially became a national holiday.

1 may  labour day in Italy concert

May 1 labour day in Italy: concert in Rome

Photo: Wikicommons


1 May Day holiday in Italy is now an important celebration in Italy and is a national holiday regardless of the week it falls. The 1 May Concert, organized by the Italian trade unions in Rome in Piazza di Porta San Giovanni, is one of the most symbolic events of the day. Every year the concert is attended by a crowd of spectators, ranging from 500,000 to 800,000.

The festival starts in the afternoon and sees the performance of a large number of Italian musical groups and international guests. For the first time in 2020, due to restrictions on the containment of the COVID-19 pandemic, the concert aired from a television studio with no audience rather than in the iconic square.