It’s May 1, the 132nd day of the year. Yesterday’s temperatures of Lake Michigan were 48 degrees at the Chicago crib and 50 degrees at the Chicago shore. The lake again showed its fierceness Wednesday night into Thursday morning, flooding paths and parks and rolling sand away from the beaches.
This day in history, from History.com:
1915, The International Congress of Women, meeting in The Hague, Netherlands, adopts resolutions on peace and women’s suffrage. More than 1,200 delegates from 12 countries attended, representing Britain, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy, Poland, Belgium and the United States.
1941, Orson Welles’ landmark movie, “Citizen Kane,” is released. Even before the release date, the film had generated such controversy that Radio City Music Hall eventually refused to show it.
1972, Cesar Chavez, co-founder of United Farm Workers, begins a hunger strike in opposition to a law in Arizona that restricted farm workers’ ability to organize. The strike lasted 24 days.
Today is May Day, a day of celebrations and strikes. Coming at about the mid-point between the vernal equinox and the summer solstice, it is one of the Celtic cross-quarter days. May Day traditions celebrating the coming of spring included dancing, gathering wildflowers and lighting bonfires. In this country, people used to give May baskets filled with flowers to those they cared about.
May 1 is also International Workers Day. The day was chosen by an organization of socialist and communist political parties to commemorate the Haymarket affair in Chicago, May 4, 1886.
Employees at several large corporations are said to be planning walkoffs today. Democracy Now reports workers at Amazon, Whole Foods, Walmart, FedEx, Target and Instacart are “demanding compensation for unpaid time off work, hazard pay, sick leave, personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies at workplaces. Many of the workers are part of a growing coalition that will join a May 1 People’s Strike launched by worker cooperatives in Mississippi.”
Mayday as a single word is code for a life-threatening emergency. Frederick Mockford, a senior radio officer at Croydon Airport in London, came up with the idea of using that word because it sounded like the French “m’aider” – “help me.”
May 1 is, finally, Law Day, as proclaimed by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1958 and as resolved by Congress in 1961. Law Day honors the role of law in creating this country.
Happy May Day, however you celebrate it.