In Britain, May Day conjures up images of rosy-cheeked rural labourers dancing round a May pole. And peversely, the public holiday to mark it rarely falls on the day itself: this year, it's on May 7th.
International Workers' Day commemorates the 1886 general strike in Chicago for a eight hour working day. In 1889, the first International Socialist Congress in Paris called for demonstrations to mark the day and it has been celebrated by workers across the world since.
May Day is above all a celebration of international working-class solidarity, irrespective of age, gender, colour or sexuality, a message summed up by the union organiser in John Sayles' 1987 film Matewan.