Why free acupuncture on May Day?

Free treatments on May 1st are a community acupuncture tradition. If you’re new to community acupuncture, or unfamiliar with the history of May Day, also known as International Worker’s Day, you might well be wondering why this is.

International Worker’s Day marks the anniversary of the Haymarket affair in Chicago.  During a public assembly during a general strike for the eight-hour workday in 1886, an unidentified person threw a bomb at the police. The police responded by shooting at the workers, killing dozens of them. May 1st, the anniversary of that event, has become an annual celebration of the international labour movement.

Why free acupuncture on that day? Yes, giving free treatments is a tried-and-true marketing strategy. But we give free pokes on May Day for other reasons, having nothing to do with revenue.

Working as a community acupuncturist in a busy clinic means treating a lot of people, most of whom would not have been able to afford acupuncture without our sliding scale. It means treating many, many patients who live with pain and illness as a direct result of their jobs: work site injuries, chemical damage, toxic levels of stress, deep fatigue from shift work, repetitive strain injuries which never get a chance to fully heal. Of course, people of all incomes and backgrounds have work-related illnesses. But as community acupuncturists, we are most often treating people who have less access to care. It is impossible to ignore that people working for less money are often required to work the hardest, for the longest hours, under the most challenging conditions. It is impossible to ignore how unjust this is.

So, offering free acupuncture on May Day is a political choice for us, a chance to extend a direct welcome and invitation to workers: “Come in and receive care today, for free.”

We always look forward to May Day! Please join us. Give us a call at (519) 829-3000 or book online.

In a large room with natural lighting, a semi-circle of patients reclining in lazyboys, covered with red blankets. On the far right, a pracitioner bends over to set needles for a patient.
photo by Vanessa Tignanelli

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