Also known as May Day and International Workers Day, Día del Trabajo (Labour Day), was established by the workers congress in Paris in 1889 as a day to commemorate the world labor movement and to celebrate laborers and the working classes worldwide. The date – May 1st – was selected in remembrance of the Haymarket Affair, which occurred in Chicago on May 4, 1886 and involved the police killing of four demonstrators who were part of a general strike demanding an eight-hour workday.
In Mexico, many families hold a feast for this annual day of rest, which is one of Mexico’s official national holidays, with most banks, government offices, museums, schools and many locally owned shops closed for the day. As in much of the world, however, this was not always the case, and many Mexican workers – even women and children – were at one time forced to work days of up to 18 hours for rock-bottom wages.
As people fought for better working conditions, the constitution was also established in Mexico, which recognized and protected the rights of workers under the law. For example,Article 123 guarantees an eight-hour standard workday, along with a day of rest for every six days of work, fair wages and the right for workers to form associations such as trade unions. In addition, a federal law was enacted to regulate labor relations between employers and workers.
Since 1913 there has been a large labor day parade in Mexico City on May 1st, and there are also many smaller parades and public celebrations nationwide. In addition, the working class sometimes organizes peaceful protest marches on May 1st as a way to express their complaints to the authorities and company executives.
On Día del Trabajo in Mexico, most nightclubs, restaurants, movie theaters and other entertainment venues remain open to cater to those who are taking a day of rest. As a precautionary measure, if you are traveling in Mexico on Labour Day it’s a good idea to call ahead and make sure that all busses, taxis, entertainment venues, etc. are operating as normal on the holiday. If you happen to be in one of Mexico’s popular resort destinations on Día del Trabajo, check out some of the local celebrations and seize the unique opportunity to soak up the area’s unique culture during this important holiday weekend.
Want to know more about spending holidays in Mexico? Click here to read about some of Mexico’s most popular national celebrations!