Labour Day is a holiday in Singapore and around the world and is known in many places as May Day. It is the day that commemorates the eight-hour day for workers.
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Labour Day is linked to the day known as International Workers’ Day, which has its roots in an incident that occurred in Chicago, USA on 1 May 1886. Dozens of demonstrators and several police were killed after an unknown person threw a bomb into a public assembly of people on strike and protesting for the eight-hour working day instead of the common 10-12 hour workday. The police responded to the bomb with gunfire causing many deaths and injuries. The incident is now known as the Haymarket Massacre.
In 1891, after a meeting of international leaders in Paris, 1 May became a day dedicated to the working classes in many countries. Demonstrations by workers occurred around the world on this date in many years to follow, and still do in some places.
In Singapore, the Labour Day public holiday does not mean that shops close. On the contrary, often stores have Labour Day sales and even more people are out and about enjoying shopping and time with family.
At the Istana, the residence of the President of Singapore, the 100-acre grounds and some buildings are open to the public on Labour Day and there are picnics, performances, activities for small children, souvenirs and refreshments.