Why are these dates bank holidays?
May Day (May 1) is a Bank Holiday because it was originally a celebration of the first day of summer back in the Roman times in the northern hemisphere.
That’s why the summer solstice (the first day of spring on the astronomical calendar) is known as midsummer’s day.
It is typically celebrated with dances, singing and feasts. Morris Dancing and the crowning of the May Queen are also typical May Day celebrations.
The last Bank Holiday in May, meanwhile, is a public holiday – as it used to mark the Monday after Pentecost.
Pentecost, also known as Whitsun, is a Christian festival celebrating the coming of the Holy Spirit to the disciples after the death of Jesus Christ.
However, it can fall outside of May – for example, Whitsun 2017 falls on June 4, so the bank holiday was changed to be on the last Monday in May.
Will I definitely get the day off?
Bank or public holidays don’t have to be given to employees as paid leave.
It’s up to an employer to decide whether bank holidays are part of a worker’s statutory leave.
So before you start making plans for your long weekend, check whether you’ve actually got the time off first.
Where do bank holidays come from?
Liberal MP John Lubbock tabled the Bank Holidays Act of 1871, so that workers could have an extra four days off.
The public holidays were designed to ease pressure on those in the working world, and were initially Easter Monday, the first Monday in August, Whit Monday and Boxing Day.
As time went on, more bank holidays were added – and there are now eight in total, which includes Christmas Day, May Day and New Year’s Day.
Banks are closed on the day, hence the name – and the tradition was that if banks aren’t doing business, no-one else can.