UK Bank Holidays: 5 Things You Did Not Know

What is a bank holiday in The UK? Well, here is a bit of British cultural knowledge for you…

A bank holiday is a public or national holiday in the United Kingdom.

These are the days when banks close and no banking transactions are made. Most of the working population also gets the day off as the majority of offices stop work for the day. As these bank holidays are always on a Monday, then it turns into what the British call ‘a long weekend’ or ‘the Bank holiday weekend’.

What do British people do on bank holidays?

As The Brits like to indulge in dark humour and pessimism, it is very common in British culture for people to expect and to talk about the possibility of The Bank Holiday weekend being full of bad, cold, rainy weather. The British media also likes to highlight that on the motorways up and down The British Isles, there will be probably traffic chaos as people travelling to see their families will get caught in long, soul-destroying traffic jams.

However, nowadays, in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Island, you can find that (like on Sundays) most shops are open in town centres. It is a busy day for D.I.Y. centres (Do It Yourself) too, as Dad finally has to ‘do some work’ on those odd-jobs around house like, painting a bedroom, mending a fence or fixing something that has needed mending for ages.

If you are not doing D.I.Y. or visiting the family, it’s common to meet up with friends to have a drink or two to celebrate the fact that it is a Monday (the worst day of the week) and you don’t have to work. If your job means that you have to work on a bank holiday and you have to suffer while everyone else is on a mini-holiday, then you have the right to spend the whole day moaning about how terrible your life is!  🙂

5 things you didn’t know about UK Bank Holidays

When did Bank Holidays begin?

The bank holiday tradition began in the Nineteenth Century when there was new legislation passed called The Bank Holidays Act 1871.

Why are there Bank Holidays?

Up until 1834, there were 33 official holidays in The UK, consisting of Saints Days and religious holidays. This was considered to be too many holidays, so in 1834, this number was reduced to 4 and the 1871 Act made it into official law.

How many Bank holidays are there in England every year nowadays?

Now, there are a total of 8 Bank holidays in England (see list below in the next section)

When are the patron saint bank holidays?

Scotland celebrates St Andrews’ Day (30th November) and Ireland has a day off on St Patrick’s Day (17th March), but Wales does NOT have a bank holiday for their patron saint St David on 1st March. England also does NOT have a holiday for their patron saint, Saint George on his day, which is the 23rd of April.

Why are Bank Holidays on a Monday?

Each year, the dates of Bank Holidays are stated by royal proclamation. This means that HRH The Queen tells the UK government in an official letter which days will be national holidays in the coming year. This is tradition, but it means that the ‘moveable holidays’ around Easter will always be put on a Monday so that no holiday is lost, which happens in other countries around the world when a national holiday date happens on a Saturday or Sunday that year.

Bank Holidays in England

There are differences in bank holidays around the different nations of the United Kingdom. For example, Scotland has a national holiday on the 2nd of January, as New Year’s Eve is a BIG party in Scotland and they probably all  need two days to get over it.  🙂

Also, in Ireland (both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland), St Patrick’s Day is celebrated on the 17th March.

On The Isle of Man (an island in the sea between Great Britain and Ireland with a population of 85,000 people), they have an extra two bank holidays. One of them is on the first Friday in July so that they can have the famous (and super dangerous) Isle of Man TT motorbike race.

  1. New Year’s Day (1st of January)
  2. Good Friday (the Friday before Easter Sunday)
  3. Easter Monday (the Monday after Easter Sunday)
  4. May Day (the first Monday in May)
  5. Spring Bank Holiday (sometimes called Whit Monday or Pentecost – the last Monday in May)
  6. August Bank Holiday (the last Monday in August)
  7. Christmas Day (25th of December)
  8. Boxing Day (the 26th of December)

SGI is open on bank holidays

Saint George International is open on bank holidays, in contrast to most other English schools in London.

On bank holidays, we teach English lessons in the morning (except for New Year’s Day, Christmas Day and Boxing Day). This means that students who are in London at our school do NOT miss a day of English classes that they have paid for (which happens with some other London schools).

At SGI, we always think of the students first. We understand that it is a big commitment of your time to come to London and be away from your family back home. So, it would not be a good use of your time to miss a day of English classes, just because there happens to be a national holiday in England.

There are no private one-to-one afternoon classes, but you can continue practising your English speaking on our daily afternoon social programme, which does not stop just because it is a bank holiday.  🙂

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