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Introduction

Welcome to the all-encompassing guide on bank holidays in England and Wales. As you traverse through the labyrinth of the English and Welsh calendar, you’ll find yourself familiarised with not only the dates, but the histories, traditions, and practices surrounding these public holidays.

Bank Holidays England and Wales 2023

DateDay of WeekName of Bank Holiday
January 2MondayNew Year’s Day
April 7FridayGood Friday
April 10MondayEaster Monday
May 1MondayEarly May Bank Holiday
May 8MondayCoronation of King Charles III
May 29MondaySpring Bank Holiday
August 28MondaySummer Bank Holiday
December 25MondayChristmas Day
December 26TuesdayBoxing Day

Bank Holidays England and Wales 2024

DateDay of WeekName of Bank Holiday
January 1MondayNew Year’s Day
March 29FridayGood Friday
April 1MondayEaster Monday
May 6MondayEarly May Bank Holiday
May 27MondaySpring Bank Holiday
August 26MondaySummer Bank Holiday
December 25WednesdayChristmas Day
December 26ThursdayBoxing Day

Bank Holidays England and Wales 2025

DateDay of WeekName of Bank Holiday
January 1WednesdayNew Year’s Day
April 18FridayGood Friday
April 21MondayEaster Monday
May 5MondayEarly May Bank Holiday
May 26MondaySpring Bank Holiday
August 25MondaySummer Bank Holiday
December 25ThursdayChristmas Day
December 26FridayBoxing Day

New Year’s Day: A Fresh Start

The first of January brings us New Year’s Day, a bank holiday universally recognised and embraced. It marks the end of the festive season and the beginning of a brand-new year.

The tradition of celebrating the New Year has deep historical roots stretching back thousands of years to ancient civilizations. Romans, for instance, dedicated this day to Janus, the god of beginnings and transitions, from whom January derives its name.

In England and Wales, it’s customary to bid the old year farewell and welcome the New Year with late-night celebrations, festive gatherings, fireworks, and the famous chimes of Big Ben. Many individuals also partake in the ‘First-Footing’ tradition, where the first person to enter a home after midnight should bring gifts that symbolise health, wealth, and happiness for the year to come.

Good Friday: Reflecting on Sacrifice

The second bank holiday we encounter is Good Friday, which falls on the Friday before Easter Sunday. The date isn’t fixed, varying between March 20th and April 23rd, as it’s determined by the ecclesiastical approximation of the March equinox.

Good Friday, a significant day in the Christian calendar, commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his subsequent death at Calvary. It’s a day of somber reflection and prayer for many Christians. Churches across England and Wales hold special services, and some participate in processions or reenactments of the Passion of Christ.

Easter Monday: The Joy of Resurrection

Immediately following Easter Sunday is Easter Monday, another movable feast in the Christian calendar. The holiday carries the jubilance of Easter Sunday, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In England and Wales, various traditional events take place on this day. For instance, ‘egg rolling,’ a tradition where hard-boiled eggs are rolled down a hill, the winner being the one whose egg travels the farthest or survives the most rolls. Such pastimes are representative of the stone being rolled away from the tomb where Jesus was resurrected.

Early May Bank Holiday: Welcoming Spring

The first Monday of May sees the Early May Bank Holiday, also commonly known as May Day. The day has been celebrated in some way for centuries, originally marking the arrival of spring.

The May Day celebrations encapsulate a multitude of traditions, such as dancing around the Maypole, crowning the May Queen, and the performance of Morris Dancing. In more recent times, it’s also associated with International Workers’ Day, and often features parades and rallies organised by trade unions.

Spring Bank Holiday: A Break in Late May

The final Monday in May brings us the Spring Bank Holiday. Originally, it was associated with Whitsun or Pentecost, a Christian festival celebrating the Holy Spirit’s descent onto the apostles. Over time, the religious significance has faded, and it is now more associated with the onset of summer and an extended weekend break.

Traditional events during this holiday often include garden parties, village fetes, and local carnivals. The natural beauty of England and Wales is at its peak during this period, making it a popular time for family outings and weekend getaways.

Summer Bank Holiday: Farewell to Summer

The Summer Bank Holiday falls on the last Monday of August. It was established to provide workers with a last chance to enjoy summer leisure activities before autumn sets in.

Traditionally, many people choose to spend this long weekend enjoying outdoor activities or travelling to coastal regions. It’s also a day where numerous community events and festivals take place across England and Wales, filling the streets with music, food, and laughter.

Christmas Day: A Time of Festivity and Joy

The 25th of December brings us Christmas Day, celebrated worldwide as the birth of Jesus Christ. Even beyond its religious significance, it’s a day devoted to spreading joy, giving, and spending time with loved ones.

In England and Wales, traditions include decorating Christmas trees, exchanging gifts, singing carols, and indulging in a festive feast with family and friends. The Queen’s Christmas Speech is also a significant part of the holiday, broadcasted on television for the nation to watch together.

Boxing Day: The Gift of Giving Continues

Finally, we arrive at Boxing Day, celebrated on the 26th of December. Traditionally, it was the day when alms boxes in churches were opened and their contents distributed to the poor. In more recent times, it’s become an extension of Christmas celebrations.

Nowadays, it’s often associated with social gatherings, sporting events, and starting the sales shopping. The King George VI horse race, held at Kempton Park Racecourse, is one of the highlights of the day.

And there you have it – a comprehensive guide to the bank holidays of England and Wales. Whether it’s the festive joy of Christmas, the reflection of Good Friday, or the jubilance of Easter Monday, each holiday carries its unique significance and traditions, steeped in historical and cultural nuances. Enjoy exploring these fascinating celebrations that punctuate the English and Welsh calendar!

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