Tween Talk with Eugenia Tachie-Menson: May we rest?

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Eugenia Tachie-Menson

May Day is an international holiday observed in many parts of the world as a day to honour workers’ rights.  These workers would include everyone who has a paying job – so that would exclude you, my dear tweenager, who thinks cleaning your room or helping with the house chores is a job…lol!

May Day – happydays365.org

You might be wondering when this May Day celebration is and how it even came about?  I have some fascinating facts to share with you about the day so do indulge me, will you?!

  1. Which day? May Day, also known as International Workers’ Day is always observed on May 1 in each year. However, in the US and Canada for instance, a similar observance known as Labor Day is observed on the 1st Monday of September.  In either case, the day is to commemorate the historic struggles and gains made by workers the world over.  In Ghana, the day is marked with public talks and is a day off for schools, the general public and most businesses.
  1. May Day in Ghana: When Ghana gained independence in 1957, the first May Day observation was held in 1965 where the then President, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was declared the “First Number 1 Worker”. Since then, it has been a yearly observation (except for 1966 when the first President was overthrown) and usually marked with a national parade of different workers from various sectors.
  1. Origins: May Day has evolved a lot since it came into being. During the Greek and Roman times (so that’s way back) it was a day to celebrate a change in weather, from Winter to Spring, and to celebrate the goddess of flowers and Spring, Chloris.  When Christianity came to Europe and England, May Day celebrations were intertwined with that of Easter.  It was only recently in the 1900s that May Day became for workers in countries that were known to be socialist and communists.
  1. SOS call: You may have watched a movie in which either you saw a plane about to crash and the pilot communicating over the radio with the control tower and frantically shouting – Mayday! Mayday! Mayday! No?  Well, I have seen it quite a number of times and used to wonder why they were yelling the name of a holiday during an emergency?

So apparently, Mayday! Mayday! Mayday! is a distress called that originated in 1923 and was used by pilots and maritime crews to communicate distress or danger.  The term was coined by a senior radio officer at the Croydon Airport in London, UK.  He had been asked to think of a word that would indicate distress and could be easily understood by all pilots and ground staff in an emergency.  At that time, much of the air traffic was between Croydon and Le Bourget Airport in Paris so Stanley proposed the expression “mayday” from the French m’aidez (meaning, help me), which was a shortened form of venez m’aidez (come and help me).

So no, May Day has nothing to do with Mayday! Can you tell the difference now? 

This year, May Day falls on a Saturday and as is the tradition in Ghana, the observation of the holiday will be passed on to the next working day -I don’t know why this is; I should find out and come back to report to you.  As such, the May Day holiday will be observed on Monday May 3 this year; what will you be doing with your holiday?  Finishing up your homework? Or cleaning out your room so you have one less thing to do over the next weekend?  Well whatever it is, make sure you do get some rest and spare a though for those workers who will still have to work even on a holiday (doctors, nurses, Uber drivers, etc)

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