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Conference: May First, Italian Labor Day



Conference: May First, Italian Labor Day

Around the world, May 1 is celebrated as Labor Day. In North America,  instead, Labor Day occurs on the first Monday of September, and the tradition orginates from the manifestation of September 5, 1882 by the Knights of Labor in New York.

The international democratic socialism officially declared May 1 as Labor Day in 1889, at the Paris meeting of the Second International, and Italy followed two years later. During the Fascism, fearing the implications of this day with the workers demanding their rights, particularly in regards to hours and wages, was thus celebrated on April, 21, the day when, according to the legend, Rome was “born” . The Republic made it an official holiday, and its celebration became the occasion for parades and public events promoted by the Trade Unions. More recently, it has evolved into a political kermesse featuring outdoors concerts, like the famous one that takes place in piazza San Giovanni in Laterano in Rome. The aspect of popular festivity tends now to prevail on the original meaning of a day intended to promote workers' rights,  confirming what, a little more than a century ago, wrote an anarchist magazine in Forlì: "The first of May is a magic word chanted from mouth to mouth, uplifting the souls of workers in the world, it is the watchword exchanged between those who are interested in their own advancement."

Among some of the most significant May 1 occurrences we remember: the massacre of Portella della Ginestra (1947) and the announcement by Pope Pius XII that the Church would dedicate May 1 to Saint Joseph the Carpenter (1955).

The conference presents a historical analysis and overview of this important celebration, both in Italy and around the world, while at the same time reconnecting it to its roots as a popular rite of Spring. The significance of the First of May in our times is highlighted by connecting it to the social advances in the workplace in the 20th century brought about by social-democratic reformism and socialism.

Organized by Fondazione Bruno Buozzi



16:30 Opening

Giorgio Van Straten, Italian Cultural Institute, director

Francesco Genuardi, Consulate General of Italy in New York, consul general

Giorgio Benvenuto, Fondazione Bruno Buozzi, president


Lectio Magistralis

17:00 Tiziano Treu, CNEL, President,: "The Italian Constitution, social rights, May First: the unbreakable bond"



17:30 Anthony Julian Tamburri, Queens College, Dean, "Considerations on migration and on the work of the Italians in the United States"

17:50 Luigi Troiani, Uni. Angelicum, prof. International Relations, Fondazione Bruno Buozzi, Coordinator of studies and researches, "The tradition of May First in the world"

18:10 Walter Marossi, Publisher in Milan, "Iconography and memories of May First"

18:30 Marcella Bencivenni, History prof., Italian American Review, director "Labor Day in the United States and May 1 among Italian immigrants"

18:50 Ugo Intini, former Director of the Avanti!, "Print and May First: the narration of May First in the history of the Avanti!"

19:10 Luigi Bobba, Ministry of Labor, former ACLI President, "The Social Doctrine of the Church and May First"


Closing remarks

19:30 Mario Mignone, the Center for Italian Studies, Stony Brook Uni., Director


Date: Monday, April 30, 2018

Time: From 4:30 pm To 8:00 pm

Organized by : Fondazione Bruno Buozzi

In collaboration with : Consulate General of Italy & ICI

Entrance : Free


Italian Cultural Institute of New York