Bank Holidays: The history of our national days off

How did Bank Holidays come about?

Until 1834, the Bank of England observed a whopping 33 saints’ days and religious celebrations as holidays, but this was suddenly cut to only four.

Then in 1871 Liberal politician and banker Sir John Lubbock introduced the Bank Holidays Act to put holidays on these four days into law: Easter Monday, Whit Monday, the first Monday in August and Boxing / St Stephen’s Day. Interestingly, it didn’t include Christmas Day as this was already widely recognised as a non-working day in Great Britain.

A decade later in 1971, the bank holiday on the first Monday of August was changed to the last Monday, where it still resides today. There are numerous campaigns for the addition of extra Bank Holidays to the calendar, but none have so far been successful.


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