Bank Holidays

Well this weekend sees yet another Bank Holiday – am I alone in despising them, almost as much as I despise caravans?

It was way back in 1871 that Bank Holidays were first introduced in the UK with England, Wales and Ireland having Easter Monday, Whit Monday the first Monday in August and Boxing or St Stephen’s Day whilst the Scots had five, New Year’s Day, Good Friday, first Monday in May, First Monday in August and Christmas Day.

Christmas Day and Good Friday were not included in the England, Wales and Ireland holidays as they were already holidays by tradition – which is still why those two days are considered Public rather than Bank Holidays today.

Cotton MillNow when they were first introduced they were probably a good idea because there were no statutory holidays as such and an employer could demand an employee worked every day of the year if they so desired. 

In the 21st century things are different and in the UK full time workers have a statutory entitlement to a minimum of 28 days paid leave in a year. It is up to employers whether Bank Holidays are included in this entitlement, most allow Bank Holidays as an addition to the 28 days, although there is no obligation for employers to allow workers to have Bank Holidays off.

So, with these protected holidays do we actually still need to have Bank Holidays?

Let’s face it with most of the working population being off on the same day it’s pointless attempting to go anywhere for the day as everywhere is crowded, so how can you enjoy yourself – unless you have a masochistic desire to spend your day with hordes of other people.

Proponents of Bank Holidays argue it makes getting together with family much easier, but how many actually do travel to meet relatives? Looking at the number of people who flock to the shops on a Bank Holiday, obviously not that many.

Bank Holiday SalesSpeaking of shops, what sane person wants to go shopping on a Bank Holiday, when the whole world and his dog is out shopping?

I detest shopping the best of times and I genuinely cannot understand how people can enjoy going shopping. People, apparently, will happily spend an entire day shopping for clothes.

On average I go shopping for clothes once every three years and I complete all the shopping in under an hour. It works, I avoid the crowds and I’m happy, I may have a glut of clothes immediately after the shop but everything gets used eventually.

Shoppers Car ParkI recall, many years ago, I was conned into going shopping with my then girlfriend. We started at 09:00 in the morning and the day concluded at around 17:30, at the shop where we first started and her buying the very first thing she had seen that day – and that is all she bought. Needless to say she was very soon an ex-girlfriend.

To be honest the only shopping I do derive any form of pleasure from is food shopping, I can even drag that out to last an hour on a good day.

Anyway I digress – let’s get back to Bank Holidays.

There was a time when most Bank Holidays were tied to religious festivals, thankfully that is reducing although we are still forced to adhere to Christian festivals.

Why, for example, is it illegal for large shops to open on Easter Sunday? Why are people effectively obliged to take Christmas Day off?

Ah, “but we are a Christian country” is the stock response ……... absolute tosh.

The British Social Attitudes in 2015 shows 49% of the population profess “no religion”, with 42% Christian and 8% other religions. Which means Christianity is not predominant any more.

Church ExteriorMore tellingly only 6% of the population attend church on a regular basis. Even on “days of obligation” Easter Sunday and Christmas Eve / Day the numbers are only about two million – most so called Christians only tend to attend Church for “hatch”, “match” and “dispatch”. (even those numbers have dropped by 12% , 19% and 25% respectively over the past decade)

Call yourself a Christian so you can have your church wedding?

For the Church of England only 980,000 regularly attend church each week a drop of 12% in a decade. (Take out the children who are dragged along to church by their parents and this figure drops to around 660,000)

It’s also worth noting the highest percentage of the population who profess to be Christian is the 65+ generation – interestingly the generation who were taught in school that the Christian story was fact not a belief.

Church InteriorCertainly when I went to school, the Christian story was taught as being fact, questioning or dissent was not allowed. Basically we were indoctrinated to believe the myth.

With the younger generations the trend was towards teaching comparative religion and, unless going to a church maintained school, Christianity is taught as a belief rather than fact. Interestingly the percentage drop of young people going to church is 23% over ten years, almost double the overall trend.

Similarly, many of the current middle aged generation were raised by those indoctrinated at school, who then brainwashed their children to believe the same fantasy.

So let’s finally put an end to this fantasy the United Kingdom is still a Christian country.

So, for the connection with the Christian fantasy alone, Bank Holidays deserve to be scrapped.

Church of England LogoMore importantly the Church should be disestablished with immediate effect. It is ridiculous that an organisation based on an unsubstantiated myth is allowed to have so much say in how the country is run.

The reason can be traced back to the aristocracy. In days of yore the eldest son inherited the estate. The second son joined the military and the third son joined the church (usually quickly becoming a Bishop) so why not give them a seat in the Lords?

Why should senior Bishops automatically be granted seats in the upper chamber of Parliament?

Why should shops and the population as a whole be dictated to as to when shops should open based on some myth that Sunday is somehow a special day? It’s only special because the book of Genesis in the Bible says there should be a special day when work is not done – why should that myth still be maintained when the entire Genesis story has long been discredited, even by the mainstream church itself.

So there is no redeeming reason why Bank Holidays have a place in this day and age.

Scrap Bank Holidays and change the statutory holidays for full time workers from 28 to 35 days and allow people to decide for themselves when they can have their holidays and not be dictated to.

As a sop to those who profess to follow a faith, there can be priority days, based on religious festivals, so followers of a religion can be guaranteed that day off if requested. So those who profess to be Christians would, for example, be guaranteed Christmas Day as a holiday if they requested it. Likewise those of other faiths would be entitled to book their holy days off as well.

Conversely those of us who couldn’t care less about Christmas and Easter would be free to work if we wished.

St George's FlagUnbelievably, there are even some people who say there should be Bank Holidays on the national Saint’s days – not only does this perpetuate the Christian myth it also adds a level of jingoism and don’t even get me started on that one – that’s for another blog.

Before I forget, one further myth to dispel from those who want more Bank Holidays, is the one that some countries have even more Bank Holidays than the UK. Technically that is correct, however there is one big difference.

If a UK Bank Holiday falls on a weekend then it is moved to a weekday in lieu, so if Christmas Day is on Saturday and Boxing Day a Sunday the Monday and Tuesday are given as Bank Holidays. Whereas in most other countries if a Bank Holiday falls on a weekend it’s tough, you lose it.

On average 29% of European Bank Holidays are “lost” because they fall on a weekend.    

Finally – don’t forget a British Bank Holiday usually means the weather will be rubbish – so it will probably end up being a damp squib anyway.   

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