A bank holiday is a public holiday in the United Kingdom, Commonwealth countries, other European countries such as Switzerland, and a colloquialism for a public holiday in Ireland. There is no automatic right to time off on these days, although banks close and the majority of the working population is granted time off work or extra pay for working on these days, depending on their contract. The first official bank holidays were the four days named in the Bank Holidays Act 1871, but today the term is colloquially (albeit incorrectly) used for public holidays which are not officially bank holidays, for example Good Friday and Christmas Day. Many large shops open on bank holidays, when many people have a day off for shopping.
Prior to 1834, the Bank of England observed about 33 saints' days and religious festivals as holidays, but in 1834 this was reduced to four: 1 May (May Day), 1 November (All Saints Day), Good Friday, and Christmas Day. In 1871, the first legislation relating to bank holidays was passed when Liberal politician and banker Sir John Lubbock introduced the Bank Holidays Act 1871, which specified the days in the table below. The English people were so thankful that some called the first Bank Holidays St Lubbock's Days for a while. Scotland was treated separately because of its separate traditions: for example, New Year is a more important holiday there.
|England, Wales, Ireland||Scotland|
|New Year's Day|
|Easter Monday||Good Friday|
|Whit Monday||First Monday in May|
|First Monday in August||First Monday in August|
|Boxing Day/St Stephen's Day||Christmas Day|
The Act did not specify Good Friday and Christmas Day as bank holidays in England, Wales, or Ireland because they were already recognised as common law holidays: they had been customary holidays since before records began.
In the United Kingdom 
Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971 
A century after the 1871 Act, the Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971, which currently regulates bank holidays in the UK, was passed. The majority of the current bank holidays were specified in the 1971 Act, but New Year's Day and May Day were introduced after 1971.
From 1965, the date of the August bank holiday was changed from the first Monday in August to the last Monday in August. Curiously, there were a few years (e.g. 1968) when this holiday fell in September, but this no longer occurs. The Whitsun bank holiday (Whit Monday) was replaced by the Late Spring Bank Holiday - fixed as the last Monday in May - in 1971. In 1978 the first Monday in May in the UK, and the final Monday of May in Scotland, were designated as bank holidays.
Royal proclamation 
Under the Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971, bank holidays are proclaimed each year by the legal device of a royal proclamation. Royal proclamation is also used to move bank holidays that would otherwise fall on a weekend. In this way, public holidays are not 'lost' in years when they coincide with weekends. These deferred bank holiday days are termed a 'bank holiday in lieu' of the typical anniversary date. In the legislation they are known as 'substitute days'. The movement of the St Andrew's Day Scottish holiday to the nearest Monday when 30 November is a weekend day is statutory and does not require a proclamation.
In Scotland 
A number of differences apply in Scotland relative to the rest of the United Kingdom. For example, Easter Monday is not a bank holiday. Also, although they share the same name, the Summer Bank Holiday falls on the first Monday of August in Scotland, as opposed to the last Monday in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
Bank holidays do not, however, assume the same importance in Scotland as they do elsewhere. Whereas they have effectively become public holidays elsewhere in the United Kingdom, in Scotland there remains a tradition of public holidays based on local tradition and determined by local authorities (for example, the Glasgow Fair and the Dundee Fortnight). In 1996, Scottish banks made the business decision to harmonise their own holidays with the rest of the United Kingdom, with the result that 'bank holidays' in Scotland are neither public holidays nor the days on which banks are closed.
Campaigns for extra bank holidays 
The number of holidays in the UK is relatively small compared to many other European countries. However, direct comparison is inaccurate since the 'substitute day' scheme of deferment does not apply in most European countries, where holidays that coincide with a weekend (29% of fixed-date holidays) are 'lost'. In fact, the average number of non-weekend holidays in such countries is only marginally higher (and in some cases lower) than the UK.
There have been calls for more bank holidays. Among the most notable dates absent from the existing list are the feast days of patron saints; 23 April (St George's Day and the birthday of William Shakespeare) in England and 1 March (St David's Day) in Wales are not currently recognised. 17 March (St Patrick's Day) is a public holiday in Northern Ireland and, since 2008, 30 November (St Andrew's Day) is a bank holiday in Scotland. St Piran's Day (patron saint of Cornwall) on 5 March is already given as an unofficial day off to many government and other workers in the county, and there are renewed calls for the government to recognise this as an official bank holiday there.
Proposed move of May Day Bank Holiday (England and Wales) 
After the election of the Coalition Government in May 2010, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport launched a pre-consultation in 2011 which included the suggestion of moving the May Bank Holiday to October, to be a "UK Day" or "Trafalgar Day" (21 October) or to St David's Day and St George's Day.
It is suggested that a move from the May bank holiday to a St Piran's Day bank holiday in Cornwall, on 5 March, would benefit the Cornish economy by £20-35 million.
1968 Emergency Bank Holiday 
During the sterling crisis of 1968, Prime Minister Harold Wilson convened a meeting of the privy council in the early hours of 14 March to declare 15 March a non-statutory bank holiday. This allowed the UK government to close the London gold market in order to stem the losses being suffered by Sterling. It was this meeting that triggered the resignation of Foreign Secretary George Brown.
List of current holidays 
|Date||Name||England and Wales (8)||Scotland (9)||Northern Ireland (10)||Republic of Ireland (9)|
|1 January||New Year's Day|
|2 January||2 January|
|17 March||St Patrick's Day|
|The Friday before Easter Sunday||Good Friday|
|The Monday after Easter Sunday||Easter Monday|
|First Monday in May||May Day, Early May Bank Holiday|
|Last Monday in May||Spring Bank Holiday|
|First Monday In June||June Bank Holiday|
|12 July||The Twelfth, Battle of the Boyne|
|First Monday in August||Summer Bank Holiday|
|Last Monday in August||Summer Bank Holiday|
|Last Monday in October||October Bank Holiday|
|30 November||St Andrew's Day|
|25 December||Christmas Day|
|26 December||Boxing Day, St Stephen's Day|
In 1999 an additional bank holiday was given (on New Year's Eve, i.e. 31 December 1999) to enable people to prepare for the festivities to mark the arrival of the year 2000.
- When the stated date falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the following Monday is normally designated a public holiday instead. When Christmas Day falls on a Saturday (and thus Boxing Day on a Sunday), the following Monday and Tuesday are normally designated public holidays instead.
- In 1995 this holiday was moved to the second Monday in May – i.e., from 1 May to 8 May – to commemorate the 50th anniversary of VE Day.
- In 2011 an additional public holiday was declared in order to ensure that most people would have a chance to celebrate Wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, making a four-day weekend as May day was on the following Monday.
"Royal Wedding: Prince William and Kate set date". BBC. 23 November 2010. Archived from the original on 24 November 2010. Retrieved 23 November 2010.
- In 2002 this holiday was moved to 4 June. This caused it to follow an extra bank holiday on 3 June, making a four-day weekend to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.
- In 2012 this holiday was moved to 4 June. It was then followed by an extra holiday on 5 June, making a four-day weekend to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.
- House of Commons Hansard Written Answers for 3 June 1998, Hansard, 3 June 1998, retrieved 28 January 2012.
In the Republic of Ireland 
In Ireland, the term "public holiday" is used officially, though "bank holiday" is used colloquially.
There are 9 public holidays in Ireland each year. Public holidays may commemorate a special day or other event, for example, St Patrick's Day (17 March) or Christmas Day (25 December). On a public holiday most businesses and schools close. Other services, for example public transport, still operate but often with restricted schedules. The list of public holidays each year is as follows:
- New Year's Day (1 January)
- St. Patrick's Day (17 March)
- Easter Monday
- First Monday in May, June, August
- Last Monday in October
- Christmas Day (25 December)
- St. Stephen's Day (26 December)
Good Friday is not a public holiday. While some schools and businesses close on that day, there is no automatic entitlement to time off work on that day.
The entitlement to public holidays is set out in the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997
The Summer Bank Holiday is the first Monday in August rather than the last. A June Bank Holiday takes the place of the Spring Bank Holiday. Easter Monday and St Patrick's Day both qualify as National Days in the Republic.
The most recent public holiday to be added, in 1994, was May Day, the first Monday in May. There have been calls by political parties for the addition of one or two extra public holidays to bring Ireland in line with the rest of Europe.
In India 
In Hong Kong 
In Hong Kong, the term "bank holiday" is used colloquially to refer to public holidays, since banks are normally closed on these days. Hong Kong has maintained a distinction between public holidays and statutory holidays; the number of days for the latter is fewer.
See also 
- "Bank holidays and British Summer Time : Directgov - Government, citizens and rights". Direct.gov.uk. 29 April 2011. Archived from the original on 15 May 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-17.
- Anon (22 May 2007). "Bank Holiday Fact File". TUC prss release. TUC. Retrieved 12 January 2010.
- Olmert, Michael (1996). Milton's Teeth and Ovid's Umbrella: Curiouser & Curiouser Adventures in History, p.170. Simon & Schuster, New York. ISBN 0-684-80164-7.
- "Bank Holidays (Ireland) Bill". Hansard, the Official Report of debates in Parliament. UK Parliament. Archived from the original on 24 February 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-26.
- Ready, Nigel P.; Brooke, Richard (2002), Brooke's notary (12 ed.), Sweet & Maxwell, p. 479, ISBN 978-0-421-67280-2
- Scrope, Henry; Barnett, Daniel (2008), Employment Law Handbook (4 ed.), Henry Scrope, p. 135, ISBN 978-1-85328-674-2
- McWhirter, Norris; Stowe, Moira F. (1980), The Guinness book of answers: a handbook of general knowledge (3 ed.), Guinness Superlatives, p. 7, ISBN 978-0-85112-202-1
- Morrow, Thomas. "Bank Holidays a history". Bank Holidays a history by Thomas Morrow. Retrieved 27 September 2011.
- Great Britain Parliament House of Lords European Union Committee (2007), Modernising European Union labour law: has the UK anything to gain?, report with evidence, 22nd report of session 2006-07, The Stationery Office, p. 100, ISBN 978-0-10-485171-5
- Union leaders are campaigning for an extra bank holiday BBC News 27 October 2004
- "Renewed call for St Piran holiday". BBC News. 5 March 2009. Retrieved 26 April 2010.
- Gledhill, Ruth (5 March 2009). "Cornwall workers given an unofficial day off for St Pirans Day". The Times (London). Retrieved 31 March 2010.
- "Cornish National Holiday worth £35m". Western Morning News. 23 November 2011.
- "Statesman who bottled out: 'Tired and Emotional: The Life of Lord George Brown'". The Independent. 9 May 1993.
- Bank holidays and British Summer Time, Directgov, 8 February 2012, retrieved 15 April 2012
- Bank holidays, NIDirect, 6 April 2012, retrieved 15 April 2012
- Public holidays, Citizens Information Board, retrieved 15 April 2012
- "Labour calls for two additional public holidays » Ruairi Quinn TD » The Labour Party".
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Bank Holidays.|
- UK Government Schedule of bank holidays for the UK
- Official text of the Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971 as in force today (including any amendments) within the United Kingdom, from the UK Statute Law Database
- Annual leave and public holidays (Ireland)
- Calendar of all legal Public and Bank Holidays worldwide, until 2050
- FirstCaribbean International Bank: Bank Holidays in the Caribbean region
- List of Bank Holidays for the Year 2010 in India
- List of Bank Holidays and other significant days for the UK
- Bank Holiday dates for the UK, Scotland and Northern Ireland