May Day (May 1) can mean many different things to someone depending on their location, historical knowledge, religion, and/or political views.
In many countries (not the U.S.) it is commonly recognized as International Worker's Day:
International Workers' Day is the commemoration of the Haymarket Event in Chicago in 1886; in 1889, the first congress of the Second International , meeting in Paris for the centennial of the French Revolution and the Exposition Universelle (1889) , following an initiative from the American Federation of Labor, called for international demonstrations on the 1890 anniversary of the Chicago protests. These were so successful that May Day was formally recognized as an annual event at the International's second congress in 1891.
It is not surprising that the state, business leaders, mainstream union officials, and the media would want to hide the true history of May Day. In its attempt to erase the history and significance of May Day, the United States government declared May 1st to be "Law Day", and gave the workers instead Labor Day, the first Monday of September - a holiday devoid of any historical significance.
Nevertheless, rather than suppressing the labor and anarchist movements, the events of 1886 and the execution of the Chicago anarchists, spokesmen of the movement for the eight-hour day, mobilized many generations of radicals. Emma Goldman (**this is where the coffeeshop/bookstore/infoshop Red Emmas got its name**), a young immigrant at the time, later pointed to the Haymarket affair as her political birth. Instead of disappearing, the anarchist movement only grew in the wake of Haymarket.
As workers, we must recognize and commemorate May Day not only for it's historical significance, but also as a time to organize around issues of vital importance of today for the working-class broadly defined, i.e. the grassroots - the people seen as a class in contrast to the superiors in income and/or rank - economically and/or political/administrative.
for more in-depth reading, download this pdf:
(the way its scanned is a little hard to follow, it kind of starts with the end. Just look for page numbers & start reading @ pg 2)