New Year's Day Bank Holiday
This bank holiday is not just recognised in the UK but generally all over the world. However, it wasn't until 1974 that this day was officially designated as a bank holiday in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The reason for this day being a bank holiday is fairly self-explanatory, it's the first day of the New Year! Traditionally this bank holiday is generally used as a day to rest before the rigours of the upcoming year and after the celebrations of seeing the New Year in the night before. More recently, this bank holiday is also seen as a day when you can grab great bank holiday bargains in the shops! It's also a traditional day for football matches to be played across the country.
Good Friday Bank Holiday
This bank holiday is recognised by all four home nations in the UK and commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. For Christians this is a very important event in their calendar and many will attend church services. For others the bank holiday represents the chance to have an extended early spring break as this bank holiday falls on the same weekend as Easter Monday (see below). Due to the fact that this bank holiday marks the beginning of a four day weekend, people will often take the opportunity to get away for a break. To encourage us to stay at home, it's also a time for more bank holiday bargains in the shops!
Easter Monday Day
This bank holiday is also connected to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, but this time commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which took place on Easter Sunday. This day is a bank holiday in England, Wales and Northern Ireland but not in Scotland. For Christians this would be a day of celebration and the day is often marked with the giving of Easter eggs. This bank holiday comes at the end of the four day weekend, and people generally use it as a day to relax before the coming week or as a day of travel back from any short breaks away they may have taken
Early May Bank Holiday
A bank holiday in Scotland since 1871, with the rest of the UK catching up in 1978, this bank holiday is a celebration of the end of winter and the start of the seasons of warmth and abundance. This is the time of year for traditional dances such as Maypole dancing and Morris Dancing and the start of the summer outdoors life in the UK. More recently, this bank holiday has become a popular time for large marches, particularly in London, normally to highlight the plights and rights of the common worker. For this reason, this bank holiday is often referred to as Labour Day.
Spring Bank Holiday
The Spring bank holiday is observed all over the UK and probably has its origins in the commemoration of Whit Monday, a Christian event relating to the Holy Spirit descending upon Jesus Christ's disciples, and falls on the last Monday in May. By now, the UK is generally on its way to summer, meaning that people generally use this bank holiday as a chance to spend time in the great outdoors
Summer Bank Holiday
One of the original bank holidays designated in the Bank Holidays Act of 1871, it was reportedly intended to allow bank employees the chance to attend or participate in cricket matches. Generally marking the end of the summer and a return to school for students, this is a bank holiday where the weather is still generally fine and warm. It's also the last chance to have a day off before December. In some parts of country there are specific celebrations on this bank holiday, for example, the Notting Hill Carnival in London, a tradition that has been gracing the streets of west London since 1965.
Christmas Day Bank Holiday
This bank holiday requires little or no explanation and is celebrated all over the UK, commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ. This is generally a time for family and loved ones, with one of the few days of the year where nearly all businesses in the UK are closed for trading. The tradition in the UK is to celebrate this bank holiday with your family over a large meal, swapping gifts.
Boxing Day Bank Holiday
This bank holiday is enjoyed on the day after Christmas day and is generally a bank holiday unique to the UK. Traditionally, this was a day when employees were gifted with money, food and other valuables by their employers. In modern times it is now considered an important day for many sporting events, particularly football and also marks the beginning of the post-Christmas sales at the shops.