Monday, May 01, 2006

May Day


May First is a holiday of multiple meanings. When I was rather small (that is to say, much smaller than I am now), it was a holiday involving the creation of small floral baskets (full of violets and anything else handy) that one placed on the neighbors' doorsteps. The giver was supposed to knock or ring the doorbell and then run away so that the bouquet would be anonymous. I suppose this rite, which was quite fun, took the place of maypole rituals.
In other places, of course, May First has had a rather different significance as a day celebrating workers. During the Communist period, May Day was celebrated with considerable pomp in Czechoslovakia. I was never actually here on May Day then, but just afterwards there were always lots of red banners with yellow lettering left over on buildings. There were generally a lot of red banners with yellow lettering around at any time of year, but May Day prompted a new collection relating to the holiday.
On Beltane, I was not thinking about May Day and had completely forgotten that another holiday was at hand. I had, in fact, been planning to go to the archive.
Fortunately I was reminded before I went, so I went to Kava Kava Kava instead to think about how to spend my day. It looked warm out, but was pretty cold, and Kava Kava Kava had both doors open to celebrate spring, so after doing a bit of work I headed back home. I had had a vague plan (or not so vague) to get inline skates for myself, but the store with the skates in the window was closed.
On my way home, I noticed a gathering at Paláckého náměstí, accompanied by numerous police. I recalled that Dawn had mentioned the Communists having been ousted from their usual May Day spot by the anti-Communists, so I wondered whether the Communists had set up at Paláckého náměstí instead.
As it turned out, this was an anti-Fascist rally by the Anarchists. I had to investigate this further.
Alarmingly reminiscent of pre-Revolution demonstrations, there was an enormous corps of riot-clad police.
There did not, however, seem to be any noticeable tension between the anarchists and the police. The anarchists were, for the most part, hanging around talking to their friends and taking pictures, and a few of them were handing out leaflets. The overall message of the day appeared to be that neo-Nazis were not a good thing.
I agree. While I haven't encountered any skinhead violence here, I know that it exists, and I was glad to see the anarchists speaking out against it, albeit in what seemed to be a very low-key manner. I stuck around for awhile and took some pictures (none of which turned out to my exacting specifications), and then headed home.
I couldn't get a good look at this sign, but it looked as though it might be an anti-fascist one by skinhead punks (not to be confused with neo-Nazi skinheads, or so I was told years ago).

All of the signage I could read was resolutely antifascist. I don't yet know how the anticommunist gathering went, or what the Communists did.
For a look at the festivities in Brno, see Jesse's remarks.

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5 Comments:

Blogger morskyjezek said...

Well, it's quite funny to see the catatonic Palacky and his nymphs looking out over the sea of hoodie-clad anarchists.

May 02, 2006 1:39 AM  
Blogger Karla said...

I agree. I had to get at least one picture with the Palácky monument in there.

On a different topic, I am curious what has prompted the fashion industry to begin calling hooded garments "hoodies." It seems like such an absurd word. Admittedly, I think hooded sweatshirts look pretty dorky anyway, but that just means my tastes have changed since kindergarten, when I thought they were almost as fine as cowboy suits and ballerina tutus.

May 02, 2006 10:05 AM  
Blogger Julia said...

I wonder what the Czechs call hoodies. Will have to ask. Let me know when you get your roller blades - I've been gathering recommendations for routes to try this summer.

May 02, 2006 12:49 PM  
Blogger Karla said...

I'm hoping to get the skates in the next few days as my place is next to the river with the ideal path.

May 02, 2006 9:48 PM  
Blogger Julia said...

True, it is ideal - nothing like a river to even out the hills ahead of time.

May 02, 2006 10:31 PM  

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