It’s hard not to talk politics at the 1st of May and then in a wider sense of the word. I was in Oslo to get an idea of the atmosphere today, with my Nokia mobile phone on hand of course. I’ll gladly share my experience with you. Let’s dig into the importance and impact of the day as I show you ‘Youngstorget’ (The Labour Square):

People gathering for the demonstration.
Click to enlarge the pics!

May Day refers to various socialist and labour movement celebrations conducted on May 1, unrelated to the traditional celebrations to commemorate the Haymarket martyrs of 1886 and the international socialist movement generally. Some of my American readers might now that May Day in the United States is commonly regarded — at least by certain groups — as a commemoration of the execution of the Haymarket martyrs who were arrested after the Haymarket Riot of 1886 in Chicago, Illinois, which occurred on May 4, but was the culmination of labour unrest which began on May 1. The date consequently became established as an anarchist and socialist holiday during the 20th century, and in these circles it is often known as International Workers’ Day or Labour Day. In this form, May Day has become an international celebration of the social and economic achievements of the working class and labour movement.

Throughout Norway on the 1st of May there are parades or to be more accurate: demonstrations – but friendly and calm ones! Let me give you some examples and try to translate their message or slogan:

Yes to ethnical diversity — Norway be responsible…
Fight racism! – – … reduce harmful gas pollution!

What makes me so enthusiastic about this is that people and organisations with different points of view and slogans walk together in perfect harmony. They might sing or shout out their message, but without interfering or abusing others. In fact I saw no police around as the demonstration parade, about 5 km long, walked around in perfect harmony. Let me give you some international examples:

Fair treatment in Kurdistan — Stop mistreating muckrakers! (whistleblowers)

An important part of the demonstration is the Norwegian marching band. I could not resist taking pics of this one with the cutest girls holding the tassels of the banner so proudly:

I can’t think of a better way to end this post than a quote from Evelyn Beatrice Hall, in her 1906 book ‘The Friends of Voltaire’: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” To me democracy is much more than giving power to more or less responsible politicians – its about empowering the people!

I made a post about it last year too, when some of my blog friends even suggested that I run for Norwegian Prime Minister!. Like I said then: I was born ultra conservative, love to live in a social democracy and probably will die as a communist:-)

So then I challenge all my blogger friends and new readers as well of course: How was your 1st of May this year?

26 Comments

  1. Hey Renny this is so awesome, thank you so much.

    In Singapore, it is illegal to have demonstration so when I was in Helsinki I was very happy to witness one too just like this that you mentioned.

    Happy Labour Day Renny!

  2. Walking together in perfect harmony is an amazing feeling.

  3. My 1st of May? Really tiring :-(

  4. Skaal! :-D

    I really enjoy learning of new places. Empowering the people is awesome! =D

  5. what an excellent example of all the different groups peaceably giving their message. and the quote by voltaire is a wonderful one.

    if i were norwegian, i’d vote Renny for PM ;)

  6. It’s Labour Day here in Malaysia — a public holiday for the workers and labourers. :)

  7. Joy Des Jardins

    I love the idea that they all walk together in harmony…that’s how it should be. It doesn’t always happen that way….sadly. We could use a little more of that here in the states. This was a very nice post Renny. Thanks so much.

  8. @Shionge: Your welcome, sorry you could not demonstrate too! Glad you’ve experienced it once then:-)

    @Zinna: Yea, really it is!

    @Missy: Hope the rest of your May will be better then!

    @SwordGirl: Glad you can pick up something in My Terella too!
    Skaal:-)

    @Lime: yes; More people around the world should listen to Voltaire!
    Thank for casting your vote:-)

    @kyh: Thank for sharing – all the way from you place of the world!

    @JoyDesJardins: Glad you liked it and maybe this could inspire other countries too:-)

  9. I woke up kinda late to see the happenings in Youngstorget but we went there and just saw all these placards and papers lying around. So we just walked up to the Royal Palace and sat on the top of the stairs, soaking some sun. I love this time of the year!

  10. It’s so funny, Renny, that at 61, I never knew about the political/historical background of May 1st until this year, through reading blogs! Your post here is so wonderfully informative.

    For me, May Day has always been about flowers and maypoles, as I mentioned on my photoblog yesterday!

  11. Thank you for stopping by at my blog.

    Good post.

    I added this blog to my blogroll.

  12. May Day is not well thought of in the USA–definitely a hang over from the Soviet era. Mostly it is ignored. The illegals tried to have a very tired march wanting protection for their bad behavior.

  13. I do so love the month of May, but May Day is not celebrated much here in the states anymore. However, when I did live in Hawaii, May Day was also Lei Day. It was a special day to spread extra aloha or love to all of those around you. You would give and receive special leis made of flowers, especially my favorite, the tuberose.

  14. Sorry I haven’t been around in a bit but life has been busy … school on Monday night and chairing an AGM last night.

    Renny for prime minister! I’d vote for ya! Ha!

  15. May 1 = free day ! :-)

  16. Hello Renny
    Nice to see that people exprime their different convictions together in the street!
    Here in France it’s the same thing. In 1889 the internatinal socialist congres of Paris adopted the first may for revencations of workers.
    After the story of Chicago, in the north of France in Fourmies, the army fight on people the first may 1891: 10 persons were killed.
    Since 1947, the first may is a day free, people don’t work and syndicats are in the streets to exprime the revendications.
    now in France people are very attentive at the politic! The big day for our president election is the 6 may!!!

  17. For the commemoration of Labor Day here in the philippines, demonstrations took place almost every province in the country. You know, we still have economic problems about cheap labor and the 125 wage hike, among others which will list a lot. I’m surprised that in Norway demonstrations are organized.

    Here, even if we are the freest democratic republic in Asia, our administration puts up demonic stratagems to,well, gag those who redress grievances on the street.

    —-
    BTW, I have changed my link

    http://es2pido.uni.cc

    It’s a WordPress site. You might like it, sir Renny! ^_^

  18. Captain Lifecruiser

    Well, you already know how my 1st of May was – A day of LOVE :-)

    Seriously, it’s about the same in Sweden as in Norway.

    Something else:
    How about coming over and getting your cruiser buttons….? *s*

  19. 1 of mai is a good day to contemplate the actual meaning and grim results of communism, so I spent my day on productive work, and reading Ayn Rand.

    A russian friend of mine suffered from shock on 1.mai while he was staying in Norway. Upon seeing the red banners, he fell ill. He was unaware that norwegians celebrated the masters of gulag.

  20. Many moons ago May day here in the UK was when the Mods and Rockers came together to fight no more thank goodness.

    This was a productive comment ;0)

  21. “I was born conservative, love to live in social a democracy and probably will die ace to communist: -)”

    I couldn’t help but smile on that! what a combination!

    I almost forgot the 1st of May this year until I heard people on the streets doing their annual rally. I didn’t understand what they were screaming about but I didn’t dare go outside that day.

  22. Mother of Invention

    May 1st is nothing here in Canada. Just an opening to what is hopefully spring. Isn’t may 4th Arbor day..plant a tree?
    Our Labour Day weekend is the first Mon. of September.

  23. Hello, Renny! Sorry it’s been so long since I’ve visited you.

    What a wonderful thing that people in your country can express themselves in this peaceful way, and not have interference with the police. Unfortunately I’ve heard about the opposite happening here in the U.S.
    Your pictures are beautiful as always. Have a fantastic weekend, my friend. XXOO

  24. Rallies in the first of May is actually quite a nice experience. It is like opening salvo for something. Btw, I just stayed at home during that day

  25. Makes me love Norway even more!

  26. Well Renny,
    we were at our Summerplace and did some gardening. You know, plants do not care about mens celebrations. As we do care for our plants, well then we did care for them.

    I do remember back in the aerly 1950’s, when Labour Day was a real Demonstrations event for workers, at the time there were lot’s of blue color workers in Oslo, we could read in the Papers on May 2:

    Arbeiderbladet (Socialdemocrats main organ): 50.000 demonstrators.
    Aftenposten (Conservative): 18.000 demonstartors.

    Police estimates: 29.000 demonstrators.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *