Saturday, April 28, 2007

May Day 1924

Here's a May Day message from Bermondsey Labour Magazine in 1924, the likes of which we won't be hearing from Tony Blair or Gordon Brown next week:

"All over the world the organised Labour movement has set aside May 1st as a special holiday or festival. From pagan and mediaeval times the period of the year marked by the beginning of the month of May has been held as a time of rejoicing at the return of sunshine and warmth after the greyness and frost of winter. In the young tress the sap is rising. Flowers and buds and blossoms are lifting up their faces to the sun. Shall not humanity do likewise and rejoice with them? May Day for our ancestors, therefore, symbolised the Dawn of Hope - hope of harvest, hope of fruit, hope of plenty, hope of the glad time to come after the bleak discomfort of the past months.

For Labour and the toiling masses everywhere, May Day signifies the new hope of the better days that are to be. It proclaims the bursting of the fetters of convention; it delcares deliverance from the bondage of wage slavery; it tells of the times when the disinherited shall share in the beauty, the joy, the dignity of like. And, as the men of the past proclaimed their faith in the future by song and dance and merrymaking, by procession and pageant and revel, so the Labour and Socialist Movement over Europe demands that May 1st shall be a day of demonstration, of carnival, of freedom from work. The celebration of May Day is Labour's proclamation to the tyrants of Land and Capital that the mighty are to put down from their seats and that the people of low degree are at long last to enter into their inheritance... May Day is Labour's International Holy-day.
(The Meaning of May Day, Bermondsey Labour Magazine, May 1924. The Merrie England cover is from May 1928).

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