For the week of May. 1, 2016
May Day (Labor Day): International. In many countries the first day of May is celebrated as a spring festival, a time to celebrate the rebirth of life after winter. Some May Day customs can be traced back to ancient observances. The tradition of dancing around a pole hung with ribbons probably had its origin in the tree worship of the Celtic Druids, and the custom of filling baskets with flowers is derived from the ancient Romansi practice of gathering spring flowers on the festival of Floralia. May Day later took on another meaning: In 1884, the Federation of Organized Trade and Labor Unions of the United States and Canada drafted a resolution in support of an eight-hour working day to begin on May 1, 1886, and called for a general strike to achieve that goal. This strike led to the infamous Haymarket Affair in Chicago on May 4, 1886. On that day an anarchist labor rally was held in Haymarket Square to protest the police killing of strikers at a factory the day before. When the police tried to disperse the rally, someone threw a bomb that killed several policemen, and a riot ensued. Despite a lack of evidence, eight of Chicagois leading anarchists were charged with conspiracy to murder n four were hanged, one committed suicide in prison, and the remaining three were later pardoned. The Haymarket Affair was a pivotal event in the history of the labor movement, leading to a crackdown on labor organizations and a splintering of the Knights of Labor, the strongest U.S. labor organization, which was eventually supplanted by the American Federation of Labor. In 1889, an international Socialist congress convened in Paris and voted to support the United States labor movementis demands, choosing May 1 1890 as a day of demonstration in support of an eight-hour working day. Many countries now celebrate May Day, sometimes called Labor Day, as an official holiday honoring working people. The United States and Canada, however, celebrate Labor Day in September.
Satyajit Ray (1921-1992): Indian. filmmaker. Rayis films depicting the lives of ordinary people in his native Bengal brought him international recognition as one of the great creators in the medium. He was involved in every aspect of the filmmaking process; in addition to writing and directing each film, he sometimes wrote the musical score, designed the sets, and even operated the camera. His best-known work is a trilogy (Pather Pachali, Aparajito, and The World of Apu) tracing the life of a single character, the young boy Apu, from his village through his education and migration to the city.
Septima Clark (1898-1997): African American. Teacher and civil rights activist. Septima Clark played a vital role in the civil rights movement as the chief organizer of freedom schools that taught thousands of Black people throughout the South to read and helped them register to vote.
Paul G. Hearne (1950?-1998) : American. Activist for the disabled. Mr. Hearne was a founder or officer of virtu -ally every national organization devoted to the disabled. He started the first legal service office for the disabled, ran the first job placement agency for the disabled, served as director of the National Council of Disability, and was influential in writing the landmark Americans with Disabilities, the Association of People with Disabilities, and the Disabilities Study Group. Born with a debilitation disorder that limited his growth to four feet tall and caused him to spend his childhood in body casts and traction until he was 15, Hearne finally was able to enroll in a new school for the disabled, the Human *Resources Center in Albertson, New York. *
Golda Meir (1898-1978): Jewish Israeli. Prime minister. Born in Kiev in Ukraine, Meir came to the United States as a child and grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She immigrated to Palestine at the age of 19. In 1969 she became Israelis fourth prime minister.
Constitution Day: Poland. This holiday commemorates the passage in 1701 of Polandis first constitution, which was the second written constitution in the world after that of the United States and the first in Europe. It provided for the separation of powers between the executive (the king and his Ministers), the legislative (the Sejm), and the judicial branches of government. Although the constitution was hailed throughout the West as a triumph for progressive forces, it was suppressed in 1792 by the invading army of Catherine II of Russia, who saw the movement toward democracy across her western border as a threat to her own absolute rule.
Keith Haring (19159-1990): Gay. Pop artist. Haring created a wide variety of public art, such as subway drawings of animals and human images and murals, including the first mural in a school yard on New York Cityis Lower East Side and a mural on the Berlin Wall. He also created designs for performances and for Swatch watches. In 1987, he used his art to support campaigns for AIDS awareness and created the Keith Haring Foundation to contribute to a wide variety of social concerns.
Henryk Sienkiewica (1846-1916): Polish. Writer. Sienkiewiczis best known works are his historical novels, which include Quo Vadis ? set in Rome in the early Christian era, and a trilogy depicting the Polesi struggles against foreign invaders in the seventeenth century. He won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1905.
Childrenis Day (Kodomo No Hi): Japan. Formerly known as Tango No Sekku or Boyis Day, Childrenis Day is celebrated by attaching wind socks in the shape of carp to poles. The carp symbolizes perseverance, power, and strength. A special meal including a rice dumpling wrapped in bamboo leaves is served.
Childrenis Day (Tano): Korea. This holiday is celebrated as a day of rest from work. Wrestling matches are held, as are swinging contests in which girls use swing hung from high branched of trees to see who can swing with the widest arc.
Cinco de Mayo: Mexico. Mexicans and Mexican Americans celebrate the triumph of Mexican forces over the French army in Mexico on May 5, 1862.
Liberation Day: Netherlands. This day marks the end of the World War II Nazi occupation of the Netherlands in 1945.
Martin Delany (1812-1885): African American. Physician and anthropologist. Trained as a natural scientist and physician, Delany became an advocate for the abolition of slavery and the emigration of free Negroes to Africa.
Amadeo Giannini (1870-1949): Italian American. Banker. One of the most creative and successful financiers of the early twentieth century, Guanine founded the Bank of Italy in San Francisco as a bank for small businessmen. His innovations, which included branch banking and home mortgages with monthly payments, brought him tremendous success, and when he resigned as chairman of the board in 1945, his bank, renamed Bank of America, was the largest commercial bank in the world. Giannini also founded Transamerica Corporation, one of the nationis largest business conglomerates.
Edwin H. Land (1909-1991): Jewish American. Inventor. Land invented the iLand Camera,i later called the Polaroid. His Polaroid Company became one of the major enterprises in the creation and production of photographic cameras and processes.
Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941): Indian. Writer and composer. A prolific and versatile readership and brought him the Nobel Prize for literature in 1913. (This date for celebrating his birthday is based on the Bengali calendar.)
Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882: United States. This federal law prohibited the immigration of Chinese laborers to the United States and denied Chinese residents the right to become citizens. Extended in 1892 and made permanent in 1902, the law remained in effect until December, 1943, when congress repealed the laws.
Visakaha Day: Buddhist. In the Theravada Buddhist tradition that predominates in Burma, Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia, Buddhais birth, enlightenment, and nirvana are all celebrated on this day.
Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla (1753-1811): Mexican. Political and military leader. A village priest who helped lead the insurgency against Mexicois Spanish rulers in 1810-1811, Father Hidalgo is best known for ringing the church bell that signaled the beginning of the rebellion. As a revolutionary leader he freed slaves in areas under the control of his army and advocated redistribution of land from Spanish owners to poor Indians and mestizos. After early military successes, his army was defeated by a Spanish military court and executed by a firing squad.
Victory Day: France. This holiday commemorates the defeat of the German army in Europe in 1945.