Bank Holidays

Bank Holidays
   The institution of Bank Holidays had a profound effect on the leisure patterns of the working classes, and affected the traditional *calendar in that many customs were pulled from their traditional days to take place on the nearest Bank Holiday. They were introduced to sort out a long-standing problem in the financial world by allowing bills of exchange which fell due on national holidays to be payable on the following day; thus allowing banks to close on those holidays. In addition, they were part of the drive to regularize holidays for working people. The Bank Holidays Act of 1871, strenuously promoted by Sir John Lubbock (later Lord Avebury), stipulated (for England) *Easter Monday, *Whit Monday, the first Monday of August, and *Boxing Day (26 December), in addition to *Christmas Day and *Good Friday which were already holidays under common law. This pattern remained unchanged until the 1970s when the moveable Whitsun was replaced by a fixed Spring Bank Holiday; New Year's Day was added in 1974; and *May Day (or the first Monday in May) was added in 1978. In the late 1980s, a government plan to replace May Day by a later holiday (e.g. Trafalgar Day, 21 October) came to nothing after much public debate.
   ■ J. A. R. Pimlott, The Englishman's Holiday (1947); The Times (various dates throughout 1871); Encyclopaedia Britannica.

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.

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