What is May Day? Here’s what you need to know about the celebrations — and protests

May Day, an annual U.S. celebration and international holiday that’s spurred both rallies and riots, is expected to draw hundreds to the streets of cities and towns Tuesday to honor the working class and advocate for the rights of immigrant workers.

and are planned across the U.S., from to to . May Day, which is also known as International Workers Day, in other countries as their Labor Day, according to Time.

May Day began as a pagan holiday , CNN reported. But its labor-oriented turn can be traced back to Chicago on May 1, 1886, when about 200,000 workers orchestrated a nationwide strike for an eight-hour workday, Time reported. As the protest continued, the event later called the Haymarket affair became fatal when on May 4, killing at least four civilians and several police officers, Al Jazeera said.

A few years later, a coalition of European socialist and labor parties according to History. The International Socialist Conference in 1889 declared that May 1 would be an international holiday for labor, Time said.


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Now, it’s celebrated in more than 60 countries, and unofficially in the U.S., History said.

The demonstrations since 2006 protests against legislation that would have cracked down on immigrants living in the U.S. illegally, the Washington Post reported. Most recently, workers across the county last year took to the streets on May 1 , the Huffington Post reported. More pro-immigrant rallies are planned this year in multiple cities.

Counter-protesters reportedly plan to gather on Tuesday, too. A right-wing group called that afternoon in Seattle, Patch reported. The Washington city when dozens of rioters used poles, hammers and other objects to smash vehicles and the windows of some businesses, the Seattle Times reported. This year, to gather in the city for a non-violent demonstration.

Several people were arrested last year at protests in Portland, Oregon, Seattle and New York, the Washington Post reported.


Barney Allis Plaza was the site of an International Workers‘ Day rally on Monday. After the rally, people marched to City Hall, where Kansas City Mayor Sly James proclaimed the city‘s support for International Workers‘ Day, also known as May Day. Jill ToyoshibaThe Kansas City Star