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May Day Holiday Closures 1 May 13

Posted by Jonathan V. Phillips in Embassy Consulate Closure, traveler advise.
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May Day has long been a traditional holiday in Europe, but the current May Day holiday, International Workers’ Day, has its roots in the not-so-distant past. The Second International, an organization of socialist and worker parties from around the world, met in Paris in 1889 and declared May 1st International Workers’ Day. The holiday commemorates the workers’ fight for an eight hour work day and the memory of the “martyrs” of the 1886 Haymarket Square massacre in Chicago, in which dozens of unarmed people were killed at the hands of the Chicago Police during a labor demonstration. This event in Chicago galvanized worker parties around the world and reinforced the concept of an international struggle shared by all workers.

Today International Workers’ Day is one of the largest secular holidays celebrated around the world. This holiday is officially observed by dozens of countries, including China, Russia and the former Soviet nations, the majority of European Union nations such as France and Germany, India, Singapore, South Korea, Vietnam, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Brazil and Venezuela, and is unofficially observed on every populated continent.

The second week of May holds another major international holiday, Victory Day. Victory Day is a holiday that celebrates the victory over fascist Germany by the Allied forces in 1945. The day marks the unconditional surrender of the German Third Reich to the Allies on May 8, but because Moscow is so far East it was already May 9. The holiday is celebrated by Europeans from London to Moscow. France and the United Kingdom celebrate the holiday on May 8, while Belgium and the Netherlands observe Victory Day on May 5. For Russia and the former Soviet nations of Armenia, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan, the May 9 Victory Day is a particularly important holiday, as the Soviet Union endured enormous losses during World War II. The Soviet Red Army incurred over 8 million deaths, and the nation as a whole had over 13 million civilian deaths. The effects of the conflict are evident even today; statistics show that every family in the Soviet Union lost a member in the conflict. Victory Day is celebrated with commencements at cemeteries, military parades, and is a unifying holiday for all citizens of the former Soviet Union. All of their consulates will be closed on Monday, May 9 in honor of the holiday.

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