Our rubbish bank holidays
British bank holidays are oh so very rubbish. Beyond not going to work, there’s little to differentiate one from the next, and we’re left to talk about the weather which, by all accounts is always rubbish.
America’s public holidays are inspired.
- New Year’s Day: The start of the new year.
- MLK Day: Martin Luther King’s birthday, on the third Monday in January.
- Presidents’ Day: Technically, this is still legally termed “Washington’s Birthday”, although it never falls on 22 February. It is held on the third Monday in February and is widely acknowledged to be a compromise between Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on 12 February and George Washington’s birthday on 22 February.
- Memorial Day: The last Monday in May, to commemorate the war dead.
- Independence Day: Celebration of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, 4 July.
- Labor Day: Celebrating workers and the labour movement, on the first Monday in September.
- Columbus Day. The second Monday in October. (He first set foot on the landmass on 12 October 1492.)
- Veterans Day. All war veterans are honoured on 11 November, the date on which the Armistice was signed ending World War I.
- Thanksgiving Day. Giving thanks to the autumn harvest.
- Christmas Day. Celebrating Jesus’ birthday.
In the UK, we have much more bland holidays.
- New Year’s Day: See above.
- Good Friday: Jesus’ crucifixion.
- Easter Monday: No real significance, beyond being a day after Easter Sunday.
- Early May Bank Holiday. Loosely associated with workers, similar to the American Labor Day.
- Spring Bank: Celebration of the Pentecost festival.
- August Bank Holiday. A holiday devoid of any meaning, it seems.
- Christmas Day. See above.
- Boxing Day. Celebrating Jesus’ hangover day, I guess.
I’m not bothered about having two fewer than they do (although their spacing throughout the year could do with some work. What bothers me is that they have little concept of character. Two of them (Boxing Day and Easter Monday) are simply extensions of other significant holidays. While the three dates in May and August might as well be celebrating my birthday.
The landing of MV Empire Windrush (22 June), Shakespeare’s birthday/deathday (23 April), a local celebration of our respective countries’ saints (various), VE Day (8 May), Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s birthday (9 April). These would all be worthy holidays.
Or how about Sir Isaac Newton’s birthday: 25 December. Oh, wait.