May 1st, Labor Day in Grenada

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On May 1 Grenadians, like their comrades around their world will congregate in the thousands to celebrate Labor Day. Each year the first day of May is celebrated in Grenada with parades and parties organized in honor of Grenada’s workers. On this day, special attention is given to workers’ rights, and many activities are organized by the Trade Unions. Labor Day is a public holiday, with schools, banks and most shops closed for the occasion.

The celebrations have a peculiar resonance in Grenada as it coincides with the arrival of hundreds of indentured workers to the island. The “Spice Island of the West” had a significant share of the more than half a million Asians (primarily East Indians) who came to the Caribbean as indentured servants.

After slavery was abolished (in 1834), the arrival of the first batch of East Indian indentured servants arrived in Grenada on May 1,1857. Between 1838 and 1917, 238,909 migrants from the British controlled sub-continent were dispersed throughout the Caribbean; some 3,200 arrived in Grenada between 1857 and 1885. In these years, large numbers of indentured servants were also brought in from Sierra Leone, Madeira, and Malta. The majority of indentured farmers brought to Grenada remained and became independent peasants. Sometimes referred to as indentured slavery, the system was often as harsh as chattel slavery.

The arrival of East Indian indentured migrants in the Americas is also celebrated around May 3rd and 4th in Guyana and Trinidad (the territories receiving the largest share of these immigrants) as (East) Indian Arrival Day.

For full article, see http://www.bigdrumnation.org/notes/grenadalabormovement.htm

Flag image from http://www.worldatlas.com/webimage/flags/countrys/cribbean/grenada.html

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