May Day Thailand

Thailand has an amazing galaxy on public holidays, mostly religious or honoring the royal family history. Many farangs are befuddled by this unexplained cosmos, especially since the nation celebrates three different New Year’s Days.

Western, Chinese, and Thai.

Today is a bank holiday in Thailand, but few Thais or westerners know the origin of this holiday.

Originally May 1 was a pagan holiday for the first day of spring, although in a different month than the present Julian calendar. Peasants the old religions danced around the Maypole. The Catholic Church suppressed the practice by naming May the month of Mary.

As a child at parochial school the nuns would parade us around the church with the girls wearing white dresses and flowers in their hair. The boys had white jackets and slacks. Parents took snapshots of their angelic children.

Years later we abandoned this pious procession to march in the May Day protests against the Cambodian Bombings.

1969-1970.

Washington, Kent State, Kissinger, Nixon talking to the protesters.

May Day for the Left honors the seven Haymarket anarchists executed for participation in Chicago’s Haymarket Riot of 1886 in Chicago.

May 1, 1886 was the start date for the 8-hour day. Big?business wasn’t happy with this new law and workers staged a series of protests. Anarchists met in Haymarket Square. The gathering was peaceful until someone threw a bomb into the police ranks, killing one officer. In the ensuing violence more died on both sides.

Hence ‘bombing-throwing anarchist’ entered the American lexicon.

The?subsequent trial of eight anarchists based the accusations on hearsay. Evidence revealing the involvement of the Pinkerton Detective Agency in the bombing didn’t prevent the death sentence for seven of the accused.

Public pressure for leniency forced the?governor of Illinois to commute?the capital charges against two ‘conspirators’.

At court Louis Lingg, the accused bomber, protested that the bombs at the Haymarket were not his and even this prosecutor agreed with the anarchist. After sentencing the German-born revolutionary said, “I die happy on the gallows, so confident am I that the hundreds and thousands to whom I have spoken will remember my words. When you shall have hanged us, then they Will do the bombthrowing! In this hope do I say to you, I despise you, I despise your order, your laws, your force propped authority. Hang me for it.”

On the eve of the execution Louis Lingg, an anarchist bomber, offed himself by exploding a dynamite cap in his mouth. Most likely the Chicago PD strapped the device to the condemned man.

The remaining four, Spies, Parsons, Fischer, and Engel were publicly hung, but not before they sang the Marseillaise, the anthem of the international revolutionary movement.

All eight were exonerated in 1893 and May 1 became a rally day for labor throughout the world, although in the USA it is called Loyalty Day.

Thailand gives the day off to workers, 70% who have decent jobs say they are happy with their present situation. Others are less so.

In?honor of the Haymarket martyrs I’m taking the day off too.

Power to the people.

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