May 1st – Labor Day

By Erin Naillon

May 1, May Day, is celebrated for more than one reason.

Lovers Day

For lovers, it’s the day to kiss under the statue of Karel Hynek Mácha on Petřin Hill. Mácha was a popular poet of the early 19th century who died at the age of 25, the very day he was to marry Lora Šomková, his fiancée and the mother of his son. It is believed that this ritual will bring good luck to the relationship; Mácha was the author of the famous poem “Máj” (“May”), a celebration of love. The poem is now regarded as a classic of Czech Romanticism.

Karlstejn Castle Tours from Prague

Petrin park
Petrin park

People also bring gifts of flowers to place at the feet of the statue on May 1, and such is Mácha’s influence. It isn’t only Mácha’s statue that experiences couples kissing. The parks on the hill, covered in cherry trees, are a favorite place for lovers to kiss – again, to bring good luck.

Workers´ Day

May 1 is also International Workers’ Day, or Labor Day (Svátek práce). This holiday, which was expected to be observed during the Communist era of former Czechoslovakia, originated with the Haymarket Massacre in Chicago on May 1, 1886. The Knights of Labor, along with other labor unions in the city and across the United States, went on strike to demand a working day of no longer than eight hours. The crowds gathered, the police attempted to disperse them, and a homemade bomb was thrown at the police. After the smoke had cleared and the shooting had stopped, eight police officers and a still-unknown number of civilians lay dead. Four years later, in 1890, the first international May Day was held, with spectacular success – it has continued to this day. International Workers’ Day is celebrated more quietly in the Czech Republic due to the former requirement to observe it.
Furthermore, the Czech Republic joined the European Union on May 1, 2004.

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