Holiday with roots in ancient celebration

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SOME believe the celebrations on May Day began with the tree worship of the Druids, while others believe they go back to the spring festivals of ancient Egypt and India.

In medieval times, May Day became an established holiday, when people would gather spring flowers to decorate their homes and dance around a maypole or totem, holding the ends of ribbons that streamed from its top, a tradition which has lasted until modern times.

In 1889, a congress of world socialist parties chose 1 May as a designated date to support the US labour movement’s demands for an eight-hour day. Labour Day, a celebration for workers, was born.

Margaret Thatcher officially abolished May Day as a national holiday in Britain. However, this has been largely ignored and there are calls for its re-introduction.

Every year, a labour event is organised in Britain by the May Day Committee, which has strong trades union links.

In 1998, the May Day 1999 International Cannabis Coalition met in London and agreed to adopt 1 May as an international day to call for the legalisation of cannabis.