Also known as International Labor Day, May Day is celebrated on May 1st all across the world. Depending on where you live, you may associate May Day with very different events. It may bring to mind flowers, maypoles and festivals celebrating the summer season, or it may bring to mind worker’s rights, political protests and organized labor. Along with these traditional associations, May Day is also a special day for those in the language service provider industry, as it happens to be Sign Language Interpreter Appreciation Day!
Sign Language Interpreter Appreciation Day | The Celtic History of the May Day Celebration
Originally, May Day was a Celtic pagan festival called Beltaine that celebrated the arrival of summer. In Beltaine (or Beltane) celebrations it was common to see rituals associated with the lighting of bonfires.
These included dances around the flames, or driving cattle in between the fires. In modern cultures that have adopted this celebration, it is typical to see maypole dancing activities and people wearing crowns made of flowers.
Many countries also identify May 1st with a very different type of activity – International Labor Day which originated in the United States in the late 19th century. During this time, workers from many industrialized countries were trying to fight for fair wages, better working conditions and a decrease in working hours.
May Day’s Modern Celebrations are Focused on Labor
On May 1st, 1886, several labor organizations and people from social political movements, went on strike to demand that the workday be shortened to 8 hours.
This action was not just another strike, but a real milestone for the labor movement. Around 300,000 workers from more than 13,000 businesses in the United States were involved in the May Day strike.
However, they weren’t all peaceful. On May 3rd in Chicago – the epicenter of the protests – a strike at the McCormick reaper plant became violent. Then on May 4th, during a peaceful protest in Chicago’s Haymarket Square, a protester threw a bomb into the crowd. This incident, which resulted in the death of several people, infamously came to be known as the Haymarket Affair
At first the protests did not seem to make a difference for workers, but eventually the 8-hour-workday became a reality. Unions and other political and labor organizations around the world took note of these actions as a symbol of the fight for worker’s rights.
In 1889, the International Socialist Conference chose May 1st as the date to celebrate an international day for all workers. Today, May Day is considered an international Labor Day. It is recognized as a public holiday in many countries around the globe where protests, rallies, parades and speeches are celebrated each year to continue the fight for better worker’s rights.
While the celebrations of May 1st have certainly evolved over the years, most people are not aware of another observance that takes place on the same day. Along with May Day and Labor Day, May 1st is also Sign Language Interpreter Appreciation Day.
Here at Language Connections, we would like to honor the hard and extremely important work done by ASL interpreters daily.
Celebrating Sign Language Interpreter Appreciation Day
On Sign Language Interpreter Appreciation Day, many organizations for the deaf and hearing impaired come together to celebrate the work of Sign Language Interpreters.
A sign language interpreter (SLI) is a trained linguist who acts as an intermediary between deaf or hard of hearing individuals, allowing for communication in various situations.
The SLI must be fluent in the sign language of his or her client (such as British Sign Language, American Sign Language, Spanish Sign Language, French Sign Language, or Chinese Sign Language to name a few), and the subject matter of the event in question, in order to accurately interpret.
For most job positions within this field of interpreting, certification is now required. This is done through the completion of a National Interpreter Certification test given by the National Association for the Deaf, and the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf. Many colleges and universities across the world now offer specific Sign Language training for SLI to be professionally trained.
Providing necessary communication facilitators for deaf individuals is not only becoming a standard regulatory requirement, but it can also open up new avenues for knowledge sharing.
At Language Connections, we have been providing professional sign language interpreting services for over 20 years.
We are extremely thankful for the hard work our interpreters do daily to break down language and communication barriers, in all manner of situations from medical appointments, to large conferences.
We would like to wish all SLIs a Happy Sign Language Interpreter Appreciation Day, and a Happy May Day and Labor Day to all our readers!
About Language Connections:
Language Connections is one of the top language service companies in the US. Over the last 30 years, we’ve focused on providing the best business translation services, interpreting services, as well as interpreter training and customized language training programs. In addition to top-tier corporate language training, we offer certified corporate interpreters and professional business translation services in 200+ languages. Our network includes linguists with backgrounds in all major industries. They’re ready to meet your needs, whether they’re for technical translation services, legal translation, government translation services, international development translation services, education translation services, life sciences translation, or something else. Reach out to us today for a free quote on our cost-efficient and timely translation services, interpreters, or other linguistic services.
Language Connections Inc.
2001 Beacon Street, Suite 105,
Boston, MA 02135