Today is August Bank Holiday Monday in England and Wales. Not the UK, as Scotland has its August Bank Holiday at the start of the month. I’m old enough to remember that England used to do that too, and I don’t know why it was changed.
Bank Holidays are anachronisms, really. Banks and Stock Exchanges are closed, although the computers work constantly. Many businesses are closed, but I suspect increasingly anything non-office based is open. Certainly retail and entertainment venues are open. Bank holidays are big shopping and entertainment days. The idea may once have been to recognise that people deserved a day off together once in a while, but it doesn’t really work that way these days.
The two traditions of Bank Holiday weekends are bad weather and traffic jams.
The US equivalents are ‘holiday weekends’. They seem to be much the same except they have a clearer meaning attached to them.
- New Year’s Day – a calendar celebration (or more likely a fait accompli since everyone was up late the night before and nobody turned up for work.
- Good Friday, Easter Monday (the only four day one unless Christmas is on a Sunday); legacy of our Christian heritage
- Spring (1st Monday in May), which I remember being introduced. In Europe May 1st is the Workers day and I think a Labour government introduced it, probably Jim Callaghan. (When I checked the link, it was started later than I’d thought).
- Early Summer (end of May, used to be Whitsunday weekend), so another Christian celebration
- Late Summer (August); possibly it used to be a quarter day, before Spring BH was introduced.
- Christmas Day and Boxing Day (day after Christmas), again a Christian heritage although, as you know, Christ disappeared once commercial sales got involved.
World building and the Bank Holiday
I sometimes wonder about these celebratory events enshrined in our culture, and whether my worlds should have them too.
The Princelings world doesn’t have any concept of work days distinct from holidays except for Yuletide, which includes all the general ‘memorial’ type of event.
I ought to consider these things more for the Viridian System. Surely they ought to have a Founders Day, or a Settlement Day or something? I had the four musing on different planets’ interpretation of Pete’s Krismas once…
All suggestions welcome.
Do your stories have national or international holidays built into them?
Have you invented any special customs?
Does one caste get the day off, call it a national holiday, while everyone else works?
That seems to be what we do nowadays. I wonder whether it’s a good thing or not.
6 thoughts on “Musings on an August Bank Holiday”
Thanks for this well timed post, Jemima. Here in Australia we call them Public Holidays. I have been keen to find out if New Years Day was considered a Bank Holiday in the UK. As we will be arriving in London early on New Years Day I had been wondering if there will be a difference in train schedules and other services available that I need to consider.
Hi Steve. New Years Day is a bank holiday, and trains usually run what they call ‘Sunday services’. Heathrow usually gets on as normal. There’ll be no trouble getting into central London from any of the airports but you may find reduced services if going on elsewhere. There may be people who’ve been with relatives over Christmas travelling home then, but given it’s a Wednesday, I suspect it won’t be too bad.
I’ve emailed you separately with some links and news.
You may find the plane has a celebration, too 🙂
Yes, the Federal Holidays over here are tied to some kind of commemoration or event. Some are the old Christian holidays—Xmas and Easter—and then there’s New Year’s, Thanksgiving, Labor Day (in September, not the “red” holiday in May), Memorial Day (late May), President’s Day in Feb (to commemorate all the Presidents’ birthdays; used to be two holidays for Washington and Lincoln), Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in January, and of course the 4th of July. I think that’s it. On those days, all government offices, schools, etc. are closed, but as with your Bank Holidays, retail stays open, and not all private offices honor them all.
I think the Feds still have Columbus Day, too, though some states (California, anyway) have changed it to Indigenous Peoples’ Day, to recognize the other side of that equation.
So far my books are all in “real” US settings, so have the standard holidays—the big ones in Skunk Corners, and I guess I should pay attention to all of them in the PTA mysteries. Ferries run Sunday schedules on holidays 🙂
I do think there should be a few holidays in the Viridian System. Local ones to the planets, like some kind of Founder’s Day, and maybe something that celebrates a change of seasons. The first cool day of fall or something. Then there would be a couple imposed by the Empire and/or Federation. The founding of the Imperium or some such. Commemoration of an historic battle, or some reference to Old Earth. Tesla’s birthday, or Einstein’s or someone you make up who made interstellar travel possible. Arriving on a planet on a holiday—local or otherwise—could create some interesting problems for Pete and Lars.
Although it appears in my calendar, I don’t remember the early August Bank Holiday ever being much of a thing here – maybe it’s literally just for banks. Summer public holidays tend to be more localised in Scotland – we have Fair Monday in July and the September Weekend in – well, i’ll let you guess which month!
Most of my stories are set in this world (but with vampires and such) so I don’t have to worry about making up holidays.
I’m in favor of holidays – much more so when I was working! We don’t have bank holidays here – but still we have a sufficient number: New Year’s, Martin Luther King Day, usually Easter Monday, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day (first Monday of September), Thanksgiving, and Christmas. We used to have Washington’s Birthday, which became President’s Day and then disappeared, replaced by MLK Day. And of course the holidays all the kids but not the parents, enjoy – Teacher Work Days.
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