Spring Bank Holiday is observed annually on the last Monday of May, which falls on May 29 this year. This day, which is a public holiday in the United Kingdom, is a day off for the majority of enterprises and educational institutions. Even public conveyance systems adhere to a holiday schedule.
HISTORY OF SPRING BANK HOLIDAY
The Bank of England recognised around thirty religious festivals as official holidays roughly two centuries ago. This was modified to include only five holidays: Christmas, All Saints’ Day, Good Friday, and May Day. The Bank Holidays Act instituted official bank holidays, as they are known, as one of the earliest pieces of legislation dealing with bank holidays. This was a precursor to the Banking and Financial Dealings Act, another essential banking law dealing with holidays. In the past, bank holidays were a day off for everyone except bank employees, who used them to work on their accounts and clean up their bookkeeping.
Spring Bank Holiday, like the majority of other holidays, has its roots in religious celebrations. In the United Kingdom, the Monday following Pentecost (a Christian holiday) was originally known as Whitsun or Whit Monday. This day commemorated the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Jesus Christ and marked the conclusion of the Easter season.
Originally, Whit Monday celebrations coincided with Easter and occurred in June, but after a five-year trial period, it was relocated to the end of May and renamed Spring Bank Holiday. This holiday was originally intended to give people extra time to complete household chores after Pentecost, but it is now celebrated with family and spent savouring the spring weather.
5 FUN FACTS ABOUT SPRING BANK HOLIDAY
Competitive cheese racing
People in Brockworth, Gloucestershire used to race down Cooper’s Hill after large round cheeses, but owing to injuries, in recent years only the cheese has been rolled down the hill.
It involves wearing ‘well’
Endon, Staffordshire villagers decorate their well and crown a young woman as the Well Dressing Queen.
Ancient Pagan rituals are incorporated into festivities.
As part of fertility rituals, these include rolling burning bundles of brushwood (to symbolise the beginning of a new year) and scattering food such as pastries, cookies, and sweets.
A celebration within this holiday
The Hay Festival of Literature & Arts, which Bill Clinton once referred to as the “Woodstock of the mind,” typically occurs between the last week of May and the first week of June.
A long vacation times two
Spring Bank Holiday was moved to a different date to follow another bank holiday twice (in 2002 and 2012) to allow people a four-day long weekend.
SPRING BANK HOLIDAY DATES