Every 1 May is a double holiday in Latvia. Not only is it the date of Labour Day, but it is also the date of “Convocation of the Constituent Assembly of the Republic of Latvia”, which is the day in 1920 when Latvia’s first-ever parliament met to draft a national constitution.
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Additionally, only four days later on 4 May, there is another holiday commemorating the initial phase of independence from the USSR. Thus, there is a patriotic tinge to Labour Day in Latvia on the one hand. But, on the other hand, its association with Soviet domination may make it seem rather unpatriotic to others.
The origin of this worldwide holiday is the 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.