Spanish Holidays: May Day

Being a Sunday, there isn’t much feel to it, but it is actually May Day, May 1st, the European version of Labor Day, but with a twist.   It also happens to be Mother’s Day too, but that was just a coincidence.   Mother’s Day is on the first Sunday in May here, so this year it all came together in one big day.   That’s sad new for those waiters and chefs hoping to get a day off, because Mother’s Day could just be the singlemost important day for restaurants in the entire year.    

May 1st is really the old International Workers’ Day, an event that gets many elderly Americans uneasy and ruffled, as they associate it with Red placards, sickle and hammers, anti-American messages and huge military parades with missiles included.  Many even think it’s no longer around.   As my mom put it: “Oh, do they still do that?  It’s so passé to be left wing.  Why don’t they drop it already.”

          Well, she didn’t quite put it in those words but the sentiment was there.  Not a problem.  It’s like it’s a big deal in Spain anymore.  Nowadays, the demonstrations are a far cry from what they used to be, which is a shame because if there ever was a need in this country to stand up and shout, raise your fists, chant incessantly and overturn a car or two, it would be in the Spain of 2011, with a persistent 20%+ unemployment level.   Oh fine, we all know that you have to factor in the underground economy, but still, that’s a  lot of people out of work.

           Unions themselves are still present in most sectors and in some they are quite strong, like public transport, taxis, etc.   I don’t want to get into a big thing about unions but the little experience I’ve had with them was a little disappointing.  I was a representative and it turned out the government owed us money.  I was so excited I said we’d all be getting a little more cash.  That was when the union leader said to me that if I wanted my share would have to join up and become a full member.   I said thought it would be better if we split whatever we made evenly among all our colleagues, but she said that wouldn’t be a good idea.  So, I kind of was bummed out by that.  It seems the were just greedy a the rest.


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