If you hear the words May Day once you could safely assume its’ about a celebration where children dance around a May Pole celebrating the arrival of Spring or when workers celebrate International Workers’ Day. If you hear Mayday Mayday Mayday you need to get help as it’s the international voice distress signal.
International Workers’ Day, aka May Day celebrates workers and working classes promoted by the international labour movement.
May 1 also marks a traditional European Spring holiday known as May Day as well.
So while May 1 is a national public holiday in over 80 countries, some are for workers-should-be-recognized-and-given-decent-wages-safe-working-conditions-benefits-respect-and-dignity May Day while for others it’s let’s-frolic-dance around-the-May-pole-and-send-flowers-because-it’s-Spring May Day.
Many countries around the world, including Canada and the United States instead have Labour Day which occurs in September and gives children an extra day off school after summer holidays, oh, and celebrates workers and the working class.
It’s a day that the rich, the corporations, and of course those jobmakers can say, we don’t mind you breathing as long as it’s not in our rarefied air. Enjoy, celebrate, now get back to work!
Originally known as Beltane, or Day of Fire, May Day was a Celtic/Gaelic festival of Spring and fertility. Sometimes celebrated April 30.
The May Pole is alleged to represent a sacred tree, some say the pole represents the male, the ribbons female…sure, why not?
The expression “roll in the hay” is thought to originate from young couples leaving May Day celebrations to, er, celebrate in other ways in fields.
The emergency procedure word, Mayday (which by protocol needs to be repeated 3 times to make sure the word isn’t confused, can be heard, and is a real emergency) is an international voice distress signal for a life-threatening situation.
Senior radio officer, Frederick Stanley Mockford (yes, real name) came up with the term in 1923 and it was adopted by the International Radiotelegraph Convention of Washington in place of the SOS Morse Code call in 1927.
Mayday is believed to be from the French “m’aider”, as in “venez m’aider” meaning “come help me”.
There are many radio signals used, but note, using any emergency calls without an emergency could leave the user open to civil and/or criminal charges.
There have also been a few bands named Mayday.
The Empire State Building (designed by William F. Lamb) was officially opened May 1, 1931 with President Hoover turning on the lights. This had nothing to do with any of the Maydays mentioned above, and more to do with an unofficial competition to build New York’s tallest building and trying to pull America out of The Great Depression. Featured in, among others, An Affair To Remember, Sleepless in Seattle, and of course, some awesome Doctor Who episodes.
The key to helping workers, or disabled, and/or those who live in poverty? Secure, affordable housing. Reasonable wages. Safe work places. Benefits. Respect. Dignity.