Luxembourg celebrates Labour Day each year on the 1 May. Originally known as International Workers’ Day, the holiday is designed to celebrate the contributions of labourers in the country.
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International Workers’ Day began in the United States as an effort to promote an eight-hour work day. During the late 1800s, workers were required to work between 10 and 16 hours in unsafe conditions. Illness, injury and death associated with the workplace were common.
On May 1, 1886, a crowd of union sympathisers and workers gathered in Chicago in an effort to bring about changes to the workplace. Police demanded that the crowd disperse and a bomb was thrown into the crowd. It was never determined who threw the bomb, but seven police officers were killed and 60 others wounded. Between four and eight civilians were killed and as many as 40 wounded in what was later called the Haymarket Riot.
In memory of those who died that day, 1 May was deemed International Workers’ Day by labour unions throughout many parts of the world.
According to a survey published in 2011, 41 percent of the workforce in Luxembourg belongs to a union, more than any other European country. Labour Day is a public holiday in Luxembourg which means schools, offices and banks are closed. Many businesses also close, including retail stores and supermarkets.