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May Day is a European festival of ancient origins marking the beginning of summer, usually celebrated on 1 May, around halfway between the spring equinox and summer solstice. Festivities may also be held the night before, known as May Eve. Traditions often include gathering wildflowers and green branches, weaving floral garlands, crowning a May Queen (sometimes with a male companion), and setting up a Maypole, May Tree or May Bush, around which people dance. Bonfires are also part of the festival in some regions. Regional varieties and related traditions include Walpurgis Night in central and northern Europe, the Gaelic festival Beltane, the Welsh festival Calan Mai, and May devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary. It has also been associated with the ancient Roman festival Floralia.
In 1889, 1 May was chosen as the date for International Workers' Day by the Second International, to commemorate the Haymarket affair in Chicago and the struggle for an eight-hour working day. As a result, International Workers' Day is also called "May Day", but the two are otherwise unrelated.
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