Sunday Sesh: The May Day Edition


Hey gang, it’s May Day. Maybe you’re a Northern Hemisphere pagan celebrating the rites of spring. Maybe you’re a worker celebrating your Engels-given right to labor as you evolve from ape to man. Today, all are welcome.

Historically, May Day was a celebration of springtime fertility that involved crowning a May queen, dancing around a Maypole, and in some cases gathering a may basket of flowers and sweets to leave on a neighbor’s doorstep. One of the earliest incarnations of the May Day celebration is Walpurgisnacht, a celebration of the Eve of the Feast of St. Walpurga; the pagan traditions are also known as Hexennacht (and may be celebrated April 30), though many of the festivities are the same. It is a time of thankfulness for the bounty of spring, and as such, I give to you a celebration of the bounty of heavy metal.

However, May Day took on a distinctly different meaning after the Haymarket riot in Chicago in 1886. Laborers had gathered in Haymarket Square on May Day to show their support for workers on strike; unfortunately, the peaceful proceedings turned violent as a dynamite bomb was hurled at police officers attempting to break up the proceeds. Several anarchists were arrested for the deadly bombing, though none of the arrested were guilty of actually deploying the explosive, and many consider the trial a grievous miscarriage of justice. Although the event initially caused a setback for labor unions lobbying for the 8-hour workday, it actually bolstered resistance to employer oversight and helped codify the labor movement in the United States, hence the date’s ultimate selection as International Workers’ Day. Today, you have the right to celebrate the hard labor of your heavy metal and punk forefathers.

So, laborers and pagans, unite. Share the fruit of your looms and loins with us in the comments below.

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