Project

Hot Labour Days in Early May

Every year photographer Andrey Lomakin makes observations of how Kiev celebrates the International Labour Day.

International Labour Day is celebrated in 142 countries of the world. The holiday is considered to commemorate workers who died during the Haymarket Affair, a riot that broke out after the bombing of peaceful protest in favor of an eight hour work day in Chicago in May 1886. The incident has had lasting reprocussions, and a tradition of workers marching in the streets began. The tradition was particularly strong in the USSR. In the Ukraine the 1st of May is still a holiday with a long weekend. But today in the Ukraine only a small portion of the population takes part in street marches. The majority prefers to picnic not far from home or spend the holiday in the countryside.

Traditions of similar holidays in Kiev in early May go back to the 17th century. We know of May “Recreations” of students and teachers of the Kiev-Mohyla Academy – they recited poetry, sang songs, staged theatre pieces in the awakening springtime countryside. Gradually, those recreations spread into the city and more and more Kiev inhabitants took part. The Cadet Grove — the summer residence of Kiev metropolitans — was the most popular place the recreations. The grove was cut down during the Civil war of 1918-1921 and eventually apartment blocks covered the area. It was in The Cadet Grove the first secret meeting of Kiev workers, dedicated to the Labour Day anniversary, took place in 1894. The meeting was ssimilar to a regular picnic, with only 20 participants.


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Text and photos: Andrey Lomakin.

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