When we went out yesterday I was hoping to see protesters and street demonstrations marching with red flags for International Workers Day. In New York, some large events have occurred on May 1st tied to this holiday over the years, but I’ve never been aware that it was a huge deal or even a set date. People protest when they want in the U.S. In Sweden, May Day is a “Röd dag” (red day) which means a national holiday when almost everything is closed and the Swedish flag is raised. The labor movement has been an important part of Sweden since the end of the 1800’s.
In 1938 May 1st was recognized as the first non religious “red day” holiday in Sweden, meaning that it’s a day off of work for most. On this particular red day though, you will find even more stores and restaurants closed because it is “International Workers Day” when political rallies flare up to fight for workers rights (since 1890). On this day there are demonstrations throughout Sweden, some of which can escalate into violence. In our town it consists of a couple calm hours of speeches, music, marching with banners, and ‘events’ in town square trying to recruit people to their cause.
There’s always a lot more than politics going on on this beautiful day though – aside from the hang overs from last nights Valborg celebrations. The two things that catch my eye are the releasing of the cows (which I unfortunately wasn’t able to see) and the classic car parade (which is not a Sweden thing, but a Halmstad thing). Last year we stumbled upon the car parade by accident and posted photos. This year we went in anticipation with ice cream in hand. Instead of photos, enjoy this video so you can hear the rumble of the engines, beeping of the horns, and music blasting from the windows. Find all the photos AND video in last years post HERE