The obvious choice for a Bank Holiday

This is one of those things which comes up time and again – we really ought to do something about Bank Holidays. It’s one of those hardy perennials of journalism, drag out the old copy, update it again and you’ll be able to sell it a couple of times a year, no sweat. There does have to be just the leeeetle variation to get it past the subs each time but that’s fine.

Julian Baggini giving us his variation in the key of Spring this year:

Bank holidays are a British idiosyncrasy that some former members of our empire continue to honour. Other countries don’t have more of them, they have public holidays instead. This is not a matter of mere terminology. A public holiday is a shared civic commemoration of something important for the society that celebrates it. These include Bastille Day in France, Liberation Day in Italy and Waitangi Day in New Zealand, which commemorates the signing of the nation’s founding treaty by the British Crown and Māori chiefs.

So, let us change what we’ve got from being days which signify little to those which do lots:

Chosen wisely, public holidays could do important civic work. For decades politicians have been wringing their hands about the failure to create a clear sense of Britishness and Englishness. They might have noticed that the only national day officially celebrated in the UK is St Andrew’s Day in Scotland. Why not give Northern Ireland, England and Wales their own national holidays as well as creating another for the whole of the United Kingdom? Allowing regions to have their own public holidays could help to foster local identities and boost civic pride. Some will be more enthusiastically embraced than others: I imagine Manchester Day would be a huge party. Kent Day would get people thinking more about what they love about the garden of England.

The national conversation about which days to celebrate would itself provoke a valuable civic conversation.

Well, yes, yes it would.

Of course the creation of these holidays would run the risk of being politicised. But a non-partisan commission could be charged with making the decisions, ensuring our new national holidays are unifying, not divisive.

Ah, yes, so, let us devise our list of dates upon which we should all be civic and celebrate.

October 21 of course, Trafalgar Day. This will not piss off the French enough so we should add Waterloo Day as well, 18 June. On the basis that it’s impossible to unify Englishmen too much by pissing off the French more we should add again 26 August and October 25 – Crecy and Agincourt. 16 May would allow us to thumb noses at the Germans as we already do when playing footie.

There aren’t any other Europeans important enough to annoy so the rest of the list is open to discussion. What say you should be added?

William Wallace’s execution date? The shortest war of all time, the bombing of the Sultan of Zanzibar’s Palace? The election of Margaret Thatcher?

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  1. Quite like the idea of Trafalgar Day. An opportunity to piss off both the Froggies & the Dagos. I do enjoy pointing out to the latter that their military have only fought two European wars in the past two centuries. Both against itself & both it lost. We’ll ignore the previous one, where it ran away to Cadiz & hid behind the Brits. Or the Colombian war of independence, where it got a drubbing from a handful of British riflemen.
    But Manchester Day? Kent Day? FFS! They do this shit here. We seem to get about one a week. Not saying the Dagos need a public holiday excuse to be lazy idle c**ts.

  2. EU Independence Day – 30 March?

    Thatcher Day – 13 October?

    Empire Day – 5 July (Cecil Rhodes’ birthday)?

    Bomber Command Day – 13 Feb (Start of the firebombing of Dresden), or for more clement weather 16 May (In commemoration of the Dambusters raid.

    That should upset the usual suspects!

  3. We already have a UK-wide national day. The anniversary of the Union on 1st May, delayed to the following Monday.

    And we really could do with a holiday in the middle of Autumn to fill that long gap from August to Christmas, Monday after last Sunday would be ideal, start of half term and day after the clocks change.

  4. “Of course the creation of these holidays would run the risk of being politicised.” Proposing their creation, of course, is already politicized, as is proposing to make what is commemorated more modern. And creating a “non-partisan commission” is not a remedy; it will devise a pablumatic, universal ideology, including Making A Difference In The Community, caring more about puppies, and not being a “homophobe.” What if we get government out of the business of telling us how to think, and the bank holidays are called things like “the Seventh of May”?

  5. All public holidays come out of total compensation. In other words any additional day off will reduce the number of days you choose to have off yourself.
    So government can swivel on my finger if they think they can tell other people what is special to them. Creating an extra day off would also undermine the noble British tradition of bunking off if a day ( quite likely a sporting event these days, and quite likely a half day ) is sufficiently worthy of celebrating. It would also reduce the flexibility we can extend towards those who want to book time off for the newer religions ( anything created after the conference of Biblos ).

    • A few small companies nearby publish their schedule of holidays at the start of the year–say, ten, but two are “personal holidays,” paid holidays chosen (with much advance notice) by the individual employee. The business schedules around these and remains open.

      As it could do for all the holidays. Make them all “personal” and no one tells us what is supposed to be special to us, and the business never has to turn away customers on the flimsy excuse it is giving its employees a special day off. You can even find people who will work on Christmas, though the boss thinks asking will make him seem like an ogre.

  6. Slight point-of-order Mr Chariman, the palace in Zanzibar was shelled, not bombed (no aeroplanes in 1896)..

    My suggestion for a named day, the way things are shaping up at the moment, would be for June 23rd to be “Betrayal Day”.