Bank Holiday Monday(s)

First of all thank-you to everyone who liked my blogs last week when I was away.  I’m glad they were appreciated and I really enjoyed following up on the people who ‘liked’ me.

Bank Holiday Weekend

Got to get your priorities right on a holiday weekend!

Monday is a Bank Holiday in England, our last one until the Christmas period.   Until the 1830’s we had over 30 bank holidays to celebrate various Saints during which no-one was expected to do much work but this was reduced to just 4 days including Christmas and Easter and not everyone was able to take these few holidays until 1871 when legislation was passed to make these holidays official.  These days were referred to as St. Lubbock days in honour and gratitude to the banker and Liberal politician Sir John Lubbock who passed these into law.

Though often referred to as Bank Holidays, Christmas Day and Good Friday at Easter are not bank holidays and just common-law holidays.  In the 1970’s it was decided that we were to have New Year Day off and then more recently May Day.

By global standards the UK does quite well for Bank or national Holidays although we rate rather poorly for Europe as a whole.  Some places have even more still such as Iran which keeps adding to its already large number or national holidays on an almost annual basis and now has dozens of them making it almost impossible for business people to get any work done at all.

Even within the UK there are differences with England and Wales having 9 holidays, Scotland 10 and Northern Ireland 11 this is due to Scotland and Northern Ireland having holidays for their patron saints while England and Wales do not.   Currently England has New Years Day, Good Friday and Easter Monday, May Day, the Spring Bank Holiday at the end of May and the Summer Bank Holiday at the end of August.

A few times in the last 20 years we have enjoyed an extra day off either for Royal Weddings and Royal Jubilees, the Millennium celebrations and the 50th anniversary of VE day.

A frustrating element of any bank holiday is the British weather is that it may pour down with rain all holiday weekend and then it turns sunny and warm as soon as everyone goes to work. Alternatively a period of sunny weather before a holiday weekend is almost a curse upon a sunny holiday weekend. It is like a weather lottery and so often we are all losers but we do make the most of the times that we win.

There is a large gap between August and Christmas with no holidays and there is continual talk of adding a day in this gap to help us catch up with our European neighbours.  The arguments against this are largely financial in that each holiday costs the country £2.3 billion ($3.7 billion dollars) in lost economic activity.  However there is a lot to be said that people are more productive when they are happier and any work or shopping that is held over for a day is normally recovered later in the week or month.  The Scandinavian countries are often said to be the richest and the most pleasant country’s in the world to live in and Sweden for example has more bank holidays and annual leave.

The present government has come up with the brainwave of moving one of our holidays in the spring to the autumn but they seem to have missed out on the basic idea of us not having enough holidays rather than taking a holiday from a warm part of the year to replace it with one in a cold part of the year.

The problem of a new holiday is made worse with thinking up a valid reason to have an extra day.  We can’t have an Independence Day and while us having St Georges Day off would bring us in line with other parts of the UK it is right in the middle of the Easter and spring holidays so perhaps the answer is to have St. Georges Day off and move one of the other days to the 4th quarter of the year.

Others say we should have a British Day of the creation of the Union but how would we celebrate it?  Maybe in our own national way we could do nothing which is why we don’t have such a day all ready.

Others have suggested the recently created Armed Forces Day but that is already a summer tradition.  France has VE day which doesn’t upset Germany so could we have a Battle of Britain Day or maybe a Trafalgar day but we are told this will offend the Germans or French.  Halloween would be another possibility or Guy Fawkes Day as we never respect our leaders anyway so what better than celebrate the man who tried to blow up Parliament?

Bonfire night

Remember remember the 5th of November









My choice would be Armistice Day on 11th November  which could have all the features of a British Day while also respecting our past and give us a reason to have a holiday which doesn’t involve shopping and the date fits quite well between the end of August and Christmas as well for those gloomy months when there is nothing to look forward to but work, work, work.

The Cenotaph in London

The Cenotaph in London on the 11th day of the 11th month… and good candidate for an additional public holiday

I am not sure what I will do with my long weekend.  The outdoors person in me would dearly like to spend time out walking or doing some early morning cycling.  The writer in me thinks that it would be really great to spend a few hours each morning working on my second book.  I have also been checking out the Triond website to see if that is worth having a play with.  It is a nice quandary to have but I won’t discount the third option of just sitting on the sofa and doing absolutely nothing at all and following the advice of the poster at the top of this blog.  The best of all about any long weekend is that on a Sunday night I can enjoy myself and not think of work as I often do from 2pm on a Sunday afternoon.

About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including a #1 seller, I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
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6 Responses to Bank Holiday Monday(s)

  1. kerbey says:

    I guess I never think about other countries’ holidays. In America, we have Labor Day in September, and then Thanksgiving in November, which is when the radio starts playing Christmas music. How does England determine when to play Christmas music?


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