Early May Bank Holiday is a bank holiday in the United Kingdom and is celebrated on the first Monday of May every year. This year it will be celebrated on May 1. This holiday is also known as May Day in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. In Scotland, it is known as the Early May Bank Holiday. It’s a day whereby all banks remain closed, as well as some shops. Public transport facilities are reduced too. The Early May Bank Holiday first originated as a Roman festival celebrating the beginning of the summer season. As time went by, the Early May Bank Holiday became a day to campaign for and honor the rights of workers.
History of Early May Bank Holiday
Bank holidays were first established by the banker, politician, and scientific writer Sir John Lubbock, who drafted the Bank Holiday Act in 1871. He also added Easter Monday, Whit Monday, the first Monday in August, and Boxing Day to the two public holidays that already existed, which were Good Friday and Christmas Day. These holidays were allotted to give a period of rest to the workers.
Initially, bank holidays strictly meant holidays for bank officials but gradually, businesses, shops, schools, and the government also started observing these holidays by halting the working day. The Bank Holiday Act of 1871 was repealed and replaced by the Banking and Financial Dealings Act of 1971, which is still followed today.
Britain has an old heritage of May Day celebrations dating back to pagan times that still have connections to customs such as the Maypole. In 1978, the first Monday in May became a public holiday in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. In Scotland, the first Monday in May was already one of the original bank holidays and had been since 1871.
In 1995, the Early May Bank Holiday was moved from May 1 to May 8 to mark the 50th anniversary of victory in Europe. In 2011, the British parliament debated replacing the May Day Bank Holiday with a different holiday in October. This change would have spread out the bank holidays more evenly throughout the year, however, they decided to stick to the original date.
Early May Bank Holiday timeline
The banker, politician, and scientific writer Sir John Lubbock drafts the Bank Holiday Act to honor workers’ rights.
The Bank Holiday Act of 1871 is repealed and replaced by the Banking and Financial Dealings Act.
The first Monday in May becomes a public holiday in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
The British parliament debates replacing the May Day Bank Holiday with a different holiday in October; however, they decide to stick to the original date.
Early May Bank Holiday FAQs
Which country has the most bank holidays?
Turkey has the highest number of bank holidays, with a total of 16 holidays.
What is the difference between a public holiday and a bank holiday?
Bank holidays are when banks and many other businesses are shut for the day. Public holidays are celebrated for their cultural or religious significance, for example, Christmas.
Why does Scotland have more bank holidays than England?
Bank holidays around the U.K. usually vary in number since they are allocated by different bodies. Scotland gets one more bank holiday than England due to St. Andrew’s Day.
Early May Bank Holiday Activities
Relax and enjoy the day
This day exists for you to relax and take a break from your professional engagements. Let your body and mind rest today.
Read a book
Get that book you’ve been planning to read for months. There’s no time like the present.
Watch a movie
Close the curtains and watch your favorite movie. It is a must to refresh your mood.
5 Interesting Facts About Bank And Public Holidays
They were called St. Lubbock's Days
Bank Holidays were once called St. Lubbock's Days after the banker Sir John Lubbock.
The country with the most public holidays
The country with the highest number of public holidays is India, with about 21 days.
The country with the least public holidays
The country with the least number of public holidays is Mexico, with just seven days.
The U.K. had 33 public holidays
Until 1834, there were 33 public holidays in the U.K., consisting of saint’s days and other religious holidays.
The second bank holiday in May
The second bank holiday is the last Monday of the month, as it is held after White Sunday or Pentecost.
Why We Love Early May Bank Holiday
To honor worker’s rights
This holiday exists to honor the workers and their contributions. It is also to give them official days to rest.
We all need off days
Since this is a public holiday, we all get to wind down and take a breath. Leisure is as important as work.
Part of the national tradition
Public holidays are a part of national traditions. These are the days recorded in calendars, and everyone looks forward to them.
Early May Bank Holiday dates