Why do the U.K. celebrate the May Day bank holiday?

The U.K. has 8 standard bank holidays a year. This consists of New Year's Eve, Good Friday, Easter Monday, May Day, Whit Monday, Summer bank holiday, Boxing day and Christmas Day. The separate countries that make up the U.K. also have some additional bank holidays that are regionally specific, such as St. Andrew's Day in Scotland and St. Patrick's Day in Northern Ireland.

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Bank holidays are a time when banks and schools close, most workers get the day off and shops and public facilities are reduced. People use them as a chance to go on holiday or spennd time with family and friends. They were first established in the 1871 Bank Holiday Act, by banker and politician, Sir John Lubbock, as he tried to improve conditions for workers and give them periods of rest. Initially, this was for bank workers, but was quickly observed by other sectors.

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The May Day bank holiday in the United Kingdom is celebrated annually on the first Monday in May. For 2022, this will be on May 2. May Day was a traditional Roman celebration to highlight the start of the summer months. It also became a time that was linked to celebrating the rights of workers.


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In some areas of the U.K., May Day is still traditionally celebrated, for example, in the Cornish town of Padstow. They dance around a maypole and two large 'oss' dance through the streets, to the cheers of the crowd.

This year the U.K. will have two extra bank holidays. This is part of Queen Elizabeth's platinum jubilee celebrations, which mark her 70th year as the monarch. This will make the 2nd and 3rd of June bank holidays, just for the year of 2022. Everybody will be given a four day weekend to celebrate her accomplishments.

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Whatever you are doing to celebrate May Day, we hope you have fun!


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