Sunday, May 27, 2007

Spring Bank Holiday

We[1] like significant dates here at Night of the Hats. So as part of our ongoing series of High Days, Holidays and other Dates Of Interest, let's talk about the Spring Bank Holiday.

There is a christian feast, known generally as Pentecost, and here in the UK as Whitsun[2], the 50th day after Easter Sunday, and the 10th day after Ascension day. Whitsun commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit onto the Apostles; it's in Acts of the Apostles if you want to know more.

Now once upon a time, the day after Whitsun, was known as Whitmonday, and celebrated as a holiday, with ale, mystery plays[3], horse racing, cricket and brass band competitions, to take a few examples from wildly varying time periods. When Bank Holidays were introduced, WhitMonday, a movable feast 7 weeks after Easter, was one of them. Later (1971) with the introduction of the May Day Bank Holiday, the Spring Bank Holiday was introduced, and fixed at the end of May to avoid it coming too close to the May Day Holiday.

Hopefully we're now all clear on why we get two Bank Holidays in May, then nothing until August. At least in England and Wales, anyway.

[1] "We" meaning in this case "I".
[2] White Sunday or Wit (Wisdom) Sunday, depending on which etymologist you happen to be talking to.
[3] Stories from the Bible rather than, for instance, Agatha Christie