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Sunday, 1 May 2011

Happy May Day

The first May day celebration in Italy took place in 1890. It started initially as an attempt to celebrate workers' achievements in their struggle for their rights and for better social and economic conditions. It was abolished under the Fascist Regime and immediately restored after the Second World War. (During the fascist period, a "Holiday of the Italian labour" (Festa del lavoro italiano) was celebrated on the 21st of April, the date of Natale di Roma, when ancient Rome was allegedly founded.) Now, May Day is an important celebration in Italy. Very popular is the Concerto del Primo Maggio ("1 May's Concert"), organized by Italian Labour Unions in Rome in Piazza San Giovanni. It is attended by more than 300,000 people every year, and involves participation of many famous bands and songwriters. The concert is usually broadcasted live by Rai Tre.

In the United Kingdom in recent years, the anti-capitalist movement has organised a number of large protests in London, Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Doncaster. In London, these have resulted in clashes with the police.  In the last few years, demonstrations have been more peaceful, with marches and gatherings, particularly in central London. The current Conservative-led coalition government in March 2011 announced plans to move the May Day bank holiday to October in order to lengthen the tourist season.  A London rally on May Day is organised by the London May Day Organising Committee (LMDOC).

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