• Short Summary

    On May Day, parades, rallies and marches usually mark the celebration of this traditional worker's holiday.

  • Description

    On May Day, parades, rallies and marches usually mark the celebration of this traditional worker's holiday. May Day celebrations can be traced back to the Magna Mater (Great Mother) festivals of Hellenistic times, but present day celebrations originated in Europe in 1890 in support for Labour demands, and in the United States about demands for an eight hour working day. May Day celebrations of this kind have become increasingly important in Socialist countries. And although they are not the largest, May Day celebrations in Moscow are among the most famous.

    SYNOPSIS: May Day in Moscow is not the day when rockets and tanks go on show, it's the festival of the people. But Tuesday's celebrations were very much President Leonid Brezhnev's celebrations. It was one of the few times the Soviet leader has been seen in public since his long illness, and his portrait was the biggest poster in Red Square.

    For the first time in eleven years soldiers and some well drilled sailors took part in this year's parade. Nevertheless, all the official emphasis was on peace. And the routines concentrated on showing a non-aggressive side of soviet military strength.

    Detente was a major theme of the Red Square celebrations. After a year in which Soviet foreign policy has met with some success, one banner confidently proclaimed Communism will win.

    But observers believe it could be one of the last May Day parades the present leadership will review from Lenin's Tomb. Most members of the ruling Politbureau are in their sixties or seventies. And at seventy-two, Mr. Brezhnev himself is an ailing man. But western observers speculate his going would not necessarily mean the end of his policy of detante, because the collective leadership could choose to continue the set pattern.

    On a rainy first of May in Yugoslavia a large crowd gathered in Bohingska Bistrica in the province of Slovenia to hear their leader Marshal Josip Tito address a May Day rally. This too was very much a day for the nation's leader, for this May Day is only six days before Marshal Tito's eighty-seventh birthday. Tito was among the first men to take an independent path in the Communist World when he defied the Soviet Union in 1948, only three years after he rose to the Presidency.

    And in another way May Day celebrations in Yugoslavia are different from those in the Soviet Union -- there are no processions. The people there prefer a holiday walk -- even in the rain.

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