Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Happy Lei Day : From Chicago and the ghost of D. H. Lawrence

Today is May Day,

Lei Day in Hawaii:

A day to be leied

Lei before
the Starr Buddha
photo by Jameson
(click to enlarge)

And, International Workers Day--

A Day of demonstrations:
A Socialist Day for workers of the world to take to the streets:



Roots of May Day are in Chicago

By Ron Grossman
Tribune staff reporter

May 1, 2007

Drop into a working-class bar or socialist meeting hall in Italy or France and say you're from Chicago, and rounds of drinks will likely come your way. "Chi-ca-go!" they'll say. "May Day."

Your hosts will be recalling something most Americans don't know: The first May Day parade stepped off down Chicago streets.

On May 1, 1886, 35,000 workers walked off their jobs, demanding the work day be reduced to eight hours from the 10 and even 12 hours then customary.

On that and subsequent days, marches were staged through the city's working-class neighborhoods by battalions of freight handlers, tailors' assistants, lumber shovers, glue workers and Bohemian sausage makers.

Echoes of those demonstrations reverberated widely, and May Day was adopted as labor's holiday around the world.

But not in Chicago, the city of its birth. Here, as in the rest of the country, prosperity robbed workers of a historical sense of their predecessors' struggles.

In other countries, though, the denouement of the story has not been forgotten. Shortly after that original May Day, a bomb went off at a union rally at the Haymarket Square, just west of the Loop, and eight police officers were killed in the explosion and ensuing chaos.

Local radical leaders were rounded up, tried and convicted of inciting the violence. Four were hanged.

Their gravesites in West Suburban Forest Home cemetery remain a pilgrimage site for old and young leftists from around the world.

Their final resting place is marked by an imposing sculpture depicting Justice laying a wreath on a fallen worker.

Its base is inscribed with the parting words of August Spies, one of those executed, to his executioners: "The day will come when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you are throttling today."

Four decades later, the novelist D. H. Lawrence wrote about May Day in a Mexican village where the townspeople were laying their own monument to "The Martyrs of Chicago."

Just give me the English maypole
or the Valborgsmässoafton-- Walpurgis Night of Sweden.
Or Beltane:

Also known as May Eve, May Day, and Walpurgis Night, happens at the beginning of May. It celebrates the height of Spring and the flowering of life. The Goddess manifests as the May Queen and Flora. The God emerges as the May King and Jack in the Green. The danced Maypole represents Their unity, with the pole itself being the God and the ribbons that encompass it, the Goddess. Colors are the Rainbow spectrum. Beltane is a festival of flowers, fertility, sensuality, and delight.


May your maypole be merry.


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