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Chapter I. Britain Round the Calendar

Public Holidays and Celebrations

There are only six public holidays a year in Great Britain, that is days on which people need not go in to work. They are: Christmas Day, Boxing Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Spring Bank Holiday* and Late Summer Bank Holiday. In Scotland, the New Year's Day is also a public holiday. Most of these holidays are of religious origin, though it would be right to say that for the greater part of the population they have long lost their religious significance and are simply days on which people relax, eat, drink and make merry. All the public holidays, except Christmas Day and Boxing Day observed on December 25th and 26th respectively, are movable, that is they do not fall on the same day eaqh year. Good Friday and Easter Monday depend on Easter Sunday which falls on the first Sunday after a full moon on or after March 21st. The Spring Bank Holiday falls on the last Monday of May or on the first Monday of June, while the Late Summer Bank Holiday comes on the last Monday in August or on the first Monday in September, depending on which of the Mondays is nearer to June 1st and September 1st respectively.

* (The terra bank holiday applies also to Christmas Day, Boxing Day and Easter Monday, and dates back to the 19th century when by the Bank Holiday Act of 1871 and a supplementary act of 1875 these days as well as the Monday in Whitweek and the first Monday in August, August Bank Holiday, were constituted bank holidays, i. e. days on which banks were to be closed. Bank holidays are not statutory public holidays, but their observance is no longer limited to banks. Since 1965 Whit Monday is no longer a bank holiday, its place was taken by Spring Bank Holiday, whereas the bank holiday formerly observed on the first Monday in August is now observed at the end of August or beginning of September and is called Late Summer Bank Holiday.)

Besides public holidays, there are other festivals, anniversaries and simply days, for example Pancake Day* and Bonfire Night,** on which certain traditions are observed, but unless they fall on a Sunday, they are ordinary working days.

* (Pancake Day - read text on p. 17.)

** (Bonfire Night - read text on p. 53.)

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