May 1st was a symbol of class struggle in Russia for about 100 years (1890-1990). Workers held annual protests on this day from 1890 to 1917, demanding better work conditions and higher wages. In 1918, May 1st became an important public holiday, known in the Soviet Union as the Day of the International Solidarity of Workers (День междунаро́дной солида́рности трудя́щихся). Most Soviet cities had parades and obligatory workers’ marches on this day until 1990. The Russian Parliament renamed the holiday as Spring and Labor Day (Праздник Весны́ и Труда́) in 1992.
Spring and Labor Day lost its socialist meaning after the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991, but some political parties and labor unions may still organize demonstrations on this day. Party members and labor union activists may participate in such demonstrations.
Spring and Labor Day is a public holiday in Russia. Most banks, public buildings and educational institutions are closed on this day. If May 1st falls on a weekend, the public holiday usually moves to the following Monday.
Many Russians use this public holiday to relax. Some may go on a retreat to their dachas to work in the garden or spend time with their families. It is also common for people to have picnics or barbecues.
С Праздником Весны и Труда! Happy Spring and Labor Day!
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