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Día del Trabajo: Celebrating Labor Day in Mexico

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On Labor Day, Mexico both commemorates the events leading up to the implementation of the Mexican Constitution of 1917 and takes a day off from the same-old-same-old of work. In this article, you’ll learn more about the origins of this holiday, how to celebrate Labor Day in Mexico, and some useful vocabulary!

Let’s get started.

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1. What is Labor Day?

A Laborer Carrying Something Heavy

On the Labor Day holiday, Mexico reflects on the history of labor in the country and celebrates the 1917 Constitution that allowed for better workers’ rights.

For many years (particularly in the late nineteenth century), Mexican workers faced the plight of poor working conditions, lower wages than their American counterparts, a lack of respect, and the inability to advance their careers based on skill or merit.

This eventually led to a revolt called the Cananea Strike, which took place in the June of 1906. In this huelga (“strike”), which took place in the mining town of Cananea, Sonora, Mexican workers made several basic demands (such as fair wages and respectful treatment from superiors)—none of which were met before they were forced to continue working. Twenty-three people were killed during the strike, which came under martial law from Arizona Rangers.

In 1907, another strike occurred at the Rio Blanco textile store. Workers complained about poor working conditions and a corrupt system. This led to many more deaths, with the Rio Blanco store being burned and several protesters shot dead or imprisoned by the Mexican Federal troops.

Not long after, the Mexican Revolution took place, and the Mexican Constitution was put into place in 1917. The first official Labor Day celebration was in 1923.

    → Study our Jobs vocabulary list to learn the name of several different occupations in Mexican Spanish!

2. When is Labor Day in Mexico?

A Calendar Page that Shows May 1

Each year, Mexicans celebrate Labor Day on 1 de mayo (“May 1” ) with the rest of the world (except the U.S., which celebrates on the first Monday of September).

3. How Does Mexico Celebrate Labor Day?

A Group of Workers Going on Strike

Because Labor Day is a public holiday, schools and the majority of businesses are closed.

The Labor Day holiday in Mexico is an opportunity for workers to take time off from their empleo (“job” ) and spend time with loved ones. Many people enjoy going out and doing things, such as seeing a movie, eating out at a nice restaurant, or shopping. There are also many parades and similar festivities that people can take part in. In addition, some people put on a manifestación (“demonstration” ) to protest for more workers’ rights or better work conditions.

Depending on when May 1 takes place, there may be an entire Labor Day weekend in Mexico. Of course, this gives workers even more time away from work and with their family or friends. It’s a great opportunity to go on a weekend trip away from home!

On Labor Day, Mexico City, in particular, is likely to be filled with activity, and it’s a great place to find a variety of delicious restaurants and interesting shops. For Mexico City, Labor Day weekend is a good opportunity to help boost the economy. 😉

4. Modern-Day Strikes

In Mexico, strikes still happen pretty frequently.

According to Mexican labor law, employees have every right to go on strike; during a so-called “legal strike,” the business affected isn’t allowed to hire replacement workers or continue business as usual.

However, this same labor law allows the Board to make the call on whether or not a strike is technically happening. In many cases, the Board decides there’s no actual strike and so allows the affected business to continue running with replacement workers.

5. Must-Know Vocabulary for Labor Day in Mexico

A Wallet with Money Sticking Out

Ready to review some of the vocabulary words from this article? Here’s a list of the most important words and phrases for Labor Day in Mexico!

  • Salario — “Salary” [n. masc]
  • Trabajador — “Worker” [n. masc]
  • Día del Trabajo — “Labor Day” [masc]
  • Huelga — “Strike” [n. fem]
  • Trabajo — “Work” [n. masc]
  • Empleo — “Job” [n. masc]
  • Jornada laboral — “Working time” [fem]
  • 1 de mayo — “May 1”
  • Manifestación — “Demonstration” [n. fem]
  • Obrero — “Laborer” [n. masc]

To hear the pronunciation of each word and phrase, and to read them alongside relevant images, be sure to check out our Labor Day in Mexico vocabulary list!

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed learning about Labor Day in Mexico with us, and that you took away some valuable information.

Do you celebrate Labor Day in your country? If so, how do your traditions and history compare to those of Mexico? We look forward to hearing from you in the comments!

If you want to learn even more about Mexican culture and the Spanish language, you may enjoy the following pages on SpanishPod101.com:

This is just the tip of the iceberg. For even more fantastic Spanish-learning content, create your free lifetime account on SpanishPod101.com today. You can also upgrade to our Premium or Premium PLUS plans, which give you access to exclusive content and features to learn Spanish faster!

Happy Labor Day, and good luck learning! 🙂

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