International Workers’ Day or Labour Day, is celebrated in many countries around the world on May 1st or a day near it.. In the UK the first Monday in May is a Bank Holiday, known as the Spring Bank Holiday, but is widely recognised as a holiday to celebrate Workers’ Day with marches and other events. In the US Labour Day falls on the first Monday in September. As with Liberation Day, last weekend, the Workers’ Day holiday falls on a weekend, so even though it is a public holiday there won’t actually be a day off for many workers, who don’t normally work on a Saturday anyway, here in Italy. Peccato!
A question we are often asked by visitors is “Are the shops and restaurants open on “May Day”?” When we first moved here in 2005, although restaurants were open, most of the shops and supermarkets would be closed, as they were on other public holidays. We got caught out many times – especially on December 8th! Nowadays, even in the smaller towns like our local Torchiarolo and Squinzano, you should usually find something open – no guarantees. Every town, every year, is different.
So, how does Italy, and in particular Puglia, celebrate International Workers’ Day. In the north of Italy, there are usually concerts, processions, trade union events and other festivities. Unfortunately, this year, as with Liberation Day, there are unlikely to be many public events.
Here in the South, in tune with the slower pace of life, and the same as any other public holiday and in fact every Sunday, friends and families gather together and food and drink are very much part of the celebrations. Weather permitting, in Puglia almost certainly, a public holiday like Workers’ Day is an excuse for a picnic. Not that there is any need for an excuse, as soon as the good weather arrives, every Sunday without fail, we will see groups of Italians picnicking under the trees on our way home as we get close to the beach. It’s a full-scale affair, with tables and benches set up and all the extended family, and friends, in attendance. Young people and children wander down to the beach, and the older folk relax in the shade of the trees.
If you, as a visitor, would like to experience an Italian Picnic, one of our local olive mills offers tours of the olive mill and olive groves and a picnic. If you are staying at Casa Mare of Villa Rosa we would be very happy to organise such an excursion for you.
Whichever way you choose to celebrate we wish you a very enjoyable International Workers’ Day. What will be doing? Having lunch with friends, one of whom is a retired Italian chef originally from Puglia!