May Day, or Labour Day, is a day of massive celebrations in Cuba. Havana, in particular, sees a huge May Day parade attended by around a million people every year. Labour Day is celebrated on 1 May like most other nations.
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On 1 May, workers from all over Cuba gather in Havana’s Revolution Square for special concerts and celebratory events. A colourful parade, strewn with waving Cuban flags, pictures of Fidel Castro, and masses of marchers dressed in red, moves down the street. But the highlight of it all is the annual May Day speech, originally always given by Fidel Castro before his death and now given by Raul or another government leader.
The origin of this worldwide holiday is the 4 May 1886 Haymarket Massacre during a labour protest in Chicago, USA. As the world industrialised in the mid to late 1800’s, the dismal working conditions in many factories led to a protest movement.
The Haymarket Massacre became a key moment in the movement, leading to the establishment of Labour Day, then called “International Workers Day”, to demand things like an 8-hour work day, safer working conditions, and increased pay.