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History of May 1 celebration in Kazakhstan

01 may 2014, 23:48
Photo © Yaroslav Radlovskiy
Photo © Yaroslav Radlovskiy

Today on May 1st Kazakhstan celebrates the Unity of Nations Day. The national holiday symbolizes friendship and mutual understanding between all the ethnic groups living in Kazakhstan. This day is a great opportunity to get to know your friends better and learn their history, culture and customs. It is also a great date to commemorate one’s own traditions and culture.

October 18th 1995, President Nazarbayev signed a document that announced May 1st as the Unity of Nations Day. The same day was celebrated as the Labor Day in the USSR. Soviet people went to see military parades and demonstrations on the squares in their cities and towns. People were eager to showcase the fruits of their hard work and labor.

The second day of the Soviet celebration was known as mayovka and people usually went to the countryside to relax.

The whole tradition of Labor Day celebration started in July of 1889 in Paris to commemorate public demonstrations of Chicago working class. On May 1st, 1886 working class people in the USA demanded instituting an 8-hour workday. In Kazakhstan the Labor Day is now celebrated on the last Sunday of September.

But for many May 1st is the day of spring celebration and life renewal. For example, ancient Celts celebrated Beltaine. It marked the beginning of summer and was the time when cattle was driven out to the summer pastures. In modern Germany, May 1st is the May Day holiday that symbolizes the renewal of nature.

In Kazakhstan, Astana and Almaty are the main cities for celebrations of the Unity of Nations Day. The main idea behind the celebration is to create awareness of the great number of ethnic groups and nations living in Kazakhstan. This year, Astana was preparing to host over 100 thousand guests.

Writing by Gyuzel Kamalova

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