The History of England’s Spring Bank Holiday – Origins and Meaning

Origins of Bank Holidays

Bank holidays have been recognized as official days off in England since 1871. The name of this holiday stems from the fact that in the past, banks were shut down during these holidays and no trade could take place.

An act was passed in 1871. It listed four official bank holidays in England, Wales and Ireland. Scotland got five bank holidays. In England, the bank holidays were to take place as follows: 

- The Monday of Easter
- A day off between May 11 and June 14, called Whit Monday
- The first Monday of the month of August
- December 26th or Boxing Day

In 1903, a bank holiday was added to the four already designated days for Ireland. St. Patrick’s Day was added to the bank holidays, as well. 

In 1971, Whit Monday was replaced by a fixed bank holiday. The last Monday of May officially became the spring bank holiday. Additionally, the day off on the first Monday of August was moved to the last Monday of the month.

A bank holiday may also refer to an emergency bank closure due to unusual circumstances. Such a holiday took place in 1968 during the sterling crisis. Prime Minister Harold Wilson suggested a bank holiday to close the London gold market and decrease losses.

Today, there is a law allowing for the dates of the bank holidays to change. New bank holidays can be declared to mark special occasions, as well. After the election of the Coalition Government in 2010, there was a suggested move of the spring bank holiday to the month of October. Pre-consultations were launched in 2011 to investigate the possibilities of alternative holidays and the supposed benefits of such a decision.

Apart from bank holidays in England, there are such days off in other countries like the US, Hong Kong and India. The rules are similar and the banks are closed for operations during those holidays.

Do Shops and Banks Work on Bank Holidays?
Till present day, banks remain closed on the spring bank holiday and the other official holidays. The situation, however, has changes since the past, as many shops and businesses decide to open and service customers during the bank holidays.

Employers are not required by law to give their workers a day off on the bank holidays. Still, many companies declare these official holidays and refrain from performing business operations. Emergency services like healthcare, firefighting and police aid will be provided during the bank holidays.

People who want to do anything connected to their savings accounts, bank transfers, bank investigations or loan provision would have to wait until the next day. Many forensic accountants like forths forensic accountants and many other forensic accountants however, will work during the official bank holidays and provide people with assistance about bank fraud and other money-related issues. 

The Contemporary Spring Bank Holiday: 
Spring bank holiday is one of the most eagerly awaited vacation days today. The entire weekend is used by families to travel and spend quality time together. The nice weather during the spring is one of the main reasons for the popularity of this day off.

There are interesting traditions related to spring bank holiday that people respect till present day. In Staffordshire’s Endon, people dress their well, hold a celebration and crown a Well Dressing Queen. A special competition takes place on Cooper’s Hill in Brockworth. People race down the hill and chase a round cheese. The first racer to cross the finish line wins an eight-pound piece of Double Gloucester cheese.

According to local decisions, stores and businesses may be either open or closed during the spring bank holiday. If you plan to do shopping on the last Monday of May, you should figure out whether the stores of interest are going to be open.

Bank holidays have remained quite popular till present day. The fact that a day off is given on Monday provides people with an opportunity to schedule a long weekend trip or to simply enjoy the company of friends and relatives. Though banks are still officially shut down, many businesses are working and providing services on the bank holidays. The tradition is still alive, though slightly modernized.

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