ON THE CALENDAR TODAY
UK bank holidays
Bank holidays are the public holidays in the United Kingdom, and their name derives from the fact that all banks ought to be closed on such days. In addition, large majority of private businesses also grant their employees a paid day off.
The existence and observance of these dates is regulated by the Banking and Financial Dealings Act of 1971. It was enacted exactly a hundred years after the Bank Holidays Act, which introduced the original four British bank holidays: Easter Monday, Whit Monday, First Monday in August, and Boxing Day. Good Friday and Christmas Day were the default holidays that need not be added to the list. The configuration was, and still is, radically different in the region of Scotland, which has its particular historical traditions, and honors them accordingly.
At the beginning, the Bank of England recognized 33 religious occasions throughout the year; these were immensely reduced by the Bank Holidays Act of 1871, suggested by the liberalist Sir John Lubbock. The Act suspended all payments to the bank during the holiday time. No employers were required, however, to pay their workers for a day off. Special occasions were introduced in Scotland and Ireland: New Years Eve by the end of the 19th century, and St. Patrick’s Day in 1903, respectively. In 1965, the August Bank Holiday was added as a summer vacation day. In 1971, most of today’s bank holidays were standardized. In 1974, New Year’s Day appeared in the national calendar, and in 1978, the government recognized May Day. The date of the August holiday was moved from the first Monday to the last, and Whit Monday became Spring Bank Holiday that is observed on the last Monday in May.
For each of these holidays and more (once we take into consideration Scotland and Ireland) there must be an annual royal proclamation; the Queen not only announces the dates, but can also move them around if the holiday falls on a weekend. A holiday that has been rescheduled to a Monday or a Friday is called a “substitute public holiday” or an “observed holiday”. The Queen’s proclamation has also the power to summon a one-time holiday.
The national bank holiday calendar in the UK consists of: New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Early May bank holiday, Spring bank holiday, Summer bank holiday, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. According to many British citizens, there are not enough paid days off for the workers, which in some years might be perceived as true, since the holiday system of other European countries is less regular and their calendar may vary annually. The most popular idea in the UK is to create a patron saint holiday, such as St George’s Day or St David’s Day. It is understandable that for some employees, the politics of non-compulsory payment for holidays might prove to be burdensome. Most citizens of Great Britain, however, receive their deserved vacation and desired paychecks; some casual employees that are compelled to work collect bonus wages. Although the United Kingdom scarcely celebrates, all its holidays are solid and guaranteed.