May Day unity on display: Hundreds of thousands rally worldwide (FESTIVE PHOTOS)

Countries throughout the world are celebrating May Day, also referred to as International Labor Day. In Russia, the holiday is marked in every big city. In the capital alone, an estimated 120,000 people have shown up.

The holiday is being marked worldwide, starting in the east and following the sun around the globe.

In Asia, May Day has gone beyond its roots as an international workers' holiday to a day of international protest. Thousands marched in Indonesia, Thailand, Taiwan, South Korea and other countries demanding wage increases and better working conditions.

In Manila, the Philippines, protesters burnt an effigy of the country’s President Benigno Aquino III during a rally near the Presidential Palace.

Hundreds of thousands of workers came out onto the streets of the Cuban capital Havana to mark the occasion, with the crowds addressed by various politicians and trade union officials.

The holiday is also widely celebrated in much of Europe. Great Britain, France, Germany, Spain and Greece are holding rallies.

In France, May Day comes just five days before the second and decisive presidential round. Media reports suggest leftists, rightist Union for a Popular Movement and National Front have been holding an indirect battle in the streets of the French capital as they gathered for rival rallies.

In Spain, where the Euro crisis has seen the country plunge into a double-dip recession, thousands of people took to the streets to voice their anger at the ongoing stringent cuts and unemployment.

More than 2,000 Greeks marked the May Day holiday with massive strikes and rallies against tough austerity measures in return for IMF and EU loans. The country’s railways are among those holding a 24-hour strike. They are joined by public transport employees and sea port workers.

There were brief clashes between protesters and riot police in the Greek capital Athens as well as the Italian city of Turin, but for the most part, global May Day activities have been peaceful.

Massive rallies are also planned in more than 100 US cities on Tuesday, as labor, immigration and Occupy activists are set to gather in support of the international workers' holiday.

Historically, May 1st – International Workers' Day – came into being in memory of workers' demonstrations that took place in Chicago in May 1886. May 1 is also recognized in the US as Law Day.

RT's Marina Portnaya explains how New York City is marking the day.


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Russia: Maintaining long-held May Day traditions

Russian Trade Unions and the ruling United Russia party have been the first to march in Moscow and according to police, 120,000 of their supporters have shown up in the city center.

Outgoing President Medvedev and President-elect Putin have joined the rally which makes the event unique. Heads of state have previously never participated in mass rallies alongside other activists.

Communists, liberals and nationalists have held separate marches. All in all some 20 separate events have been announced ahead of the holiday.

However massive the rallies were, everything ended peacefully, without any major violations.

Similar events are taking place throughout the country. Due to time differences, some rallies in Russia’s Far East, Siberia and Urals have already finished. About 220,000 people took to the streets in the Far East. The events in the Sakhalin Region, however, were canceled due to heavy rain. Regions to the west of Moscow joined the holiday later on Tuesday.

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Russian Trade Unions and the ruling United Russia party rally in Moscow (RIA Novosti / Alexey Kudenko)
Russian Trade Unions and the ruling United Russia party rally in Moscow (RIA Novosti / Alexey Kudenko)

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Dmitry Medvedev (C), Vladimir Putin (2-R) and Sergey Sobyanin (L), RIA Novosti / Alexsey Druginyn
Dmitry Medvedev (C), Vladimir Putin (2-R) and Sergey Sobyanin (L), RIA Novosti / Alexsey Druginyn

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Russian Trade Unions and the ruling United Russia party rally in Moscow
Russian Trade Unions and the ruling United Russia party rally in Moscow

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Russian Trade Unions and the ruling United Russia party rally in Moscow (RIA Novosti / Vladimir Pesnya)
Russian Trade Unions and the ruling United Russia party rally in Moscow (RIA Novosti / Vladimir Pesnya)

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Communist Party rally in the center of Moscow (RIA Novosti / Vitaliy Belousov)
Communist Party rally in the center of Moscow (RIA Novosti / Vitaliy Belousov)

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People take part in a march as part of the annual May Day workers′ events on May 1, 2012 in Strasbourg, France (AFP Photo / Frederick Florin)
People take part in a march as part of the annual May Day workers' events on May 1, 2012 in Strasbourg, France (AFP Photo / Frederick Florin)

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Bangladeshi activists shout slogans and wave flags during a procession to mark May Day in Dhaka on May 1, 2012(AFP Photo /Munir uz Zaman)
Bangladeshi activists shout slogans and wave flags during a procession to mark May Day in Dhaka on May 1, 2012(AFP Photo /Munir uz Zaman)

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South Korean workers march during a May Day rally in downtown Seoul on May 1, 2012 (AFP Photo / Jung Yeon-Je)
South Korean workers march during a May Day rally in downtown Seoul on May 1, 2012 (AFP Photo / Jung Yeon-Je)

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Indonesian workers march towards the presidential palace during the May Day protests in Jakarta on May 1, 2012 (AFP Photo / Adek Berry)
Indonesian workers march towards the presidential palace during the May Day protests in Jakarta on May 1, 2012 (AFP Photo / Adek Berry)

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Supporters of the Iraqi communist party during a march to Firdous Square, in the centre of Baghdad, in celebration of International Worker′s Day, or Labour Day on May 1, 2012 (AFP Photo / Sabah Arar)
Supporters of the Iraqi communist party during a march to Firdous Square, in the centre of Baghdad, in celebration of International Worker's Day, or Labour Day on May 1, 2012 (AFP Photo / Sabah Arar)

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More than a thousand labour union members gather during a march towards the presidential palace in Manila, Philippines on May 1, 2012 (AFP Photo /Jay Directo)
More than a thousand labour union members gather during a march towards the presidential palace in Manila, Philippines on May 1, 2012 (AFP Photo /Jay Directo)

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Militants and labour union members gather around a burning the effigy of Philippine President Benigno Aquino in Manila on May 1, 2012 (AFP Photo / Noel Celis)
Militants and labour union members gather around a burning the effigy of Philippine President Benigno Aquino in Manila on May 1, 2012 (AFP Photo / Noel Celis)

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People march on the street as they hold banners during a May Day demonstration in Tokio, Japan on May 1, 2012 (AFP Photo / Toru YAmanaka)
People march on the street as they hold banners during a May Day demonstration in Tokio, Japan on May 1, 2012 (AFP Photo / Toru YAmanaka)

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Cambodian workers march along a street in front of the Royal Palace during international workers day in Phnom Penh May 1, 2012 (AFP Photo / Tang Chhin Sothy)
Cambodian workers march along a street in front of the Royal Palace during international workers day in Phnom Penh May 1, 2012 (AFP Photo / Tang Chhin Sothy)

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Thai workers (L) parade next to elephants as they rally to mark the international worker′s day in Bangkok on May 1, 2012 (AFP Photo / Pornchai Kittiwongsakul)
Thai workers (L) parade next to elephants as they rally to mark the international worker's day in Bangkok on May 1, 2012 (AFP Photo / Pornchai Kittiwongsakul)

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Pakistani labour union workers carry placards as they shout slogans during a May Day rally in Lahore on May 1, 2012 (AFP Photo / Arif Ali)
Pakistani labour union workers carry placards as they shout slogans during a May Day rally in Lahore on May 1, 2012 (AFP Photo / Arif Ali)
Demonstrators wave union flags as part of the traditional labour union May Day march in Paris (REUTERS/Charles Platiau)
Demonstrators wave union flags as part of the traditional labour union May Day march in Paris (REUTERS/Charles Platiau)
Smoke surrounds demonstrators who take part in the traditional labour union May Day march in Paris (REUTERS/Charles Platiau)
Smoke surrounds demonstrators who take part in the traditional labour union May Day march in Paris (REUTERS/Charles Platiau)
Demonstrators wave union flags as part of the traditional labour union May Day march in Paris (REUTERS/Charles Platiau)
Demonstrators wave union flags as part of the traditional labour union May Day march in Paris (REUTERS/Charles Platiau)
Workers shout slogans against austerity measures during a march by the Portuguese union CGTP in Lisbon (REUTERS/Hugo Correia)
Workers shout slogans against austerity measures during a march by the Portuguese union CGTP in Lisbon (REUTERS/Hugo Correia)
Left-wing protestors march as they are surrounded by riot police during May Day demonstrations in Berlin′s Kreuzberg district (REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch)
Left-wing protestors march as they are surrounded by riot police during May Day demonstrations in Berlin's Kreuzberg district (REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch)
Occupy Wall Street protesters during a demonstration in New York City (REUTERS/Mike Segar)
Occupy Wall Street protesters during a demonstration in New York City (REUTERS/Mike Segar)
Talarico from Brooklyn, New York, joins Occupy Wall Street protesters during a demonstration in Bryant Park (REUTERS/Mike Segar)
Talarico from Brooklyn, New York, joins Occupy Wall Street protesters during a demonstration in Bryant Park (REUTERS/Mike Segar)