I Just Learned Why We Have Bank Holidays And It's Not As Simple As I Thought

<span class="copyright">LeoPatrizi via Getty Images</span>
LeoPatrizi via Getty Images

Us Brits absolutely love a bank holiday. We plan our BBQ’s around it, we have specific supermarket and pub deals for bank holidays and May is probably the most celebrated month in the UK calendar as we have two bank holidays during this month.


But, where do they come from? And, do other countries have them or are we just really into our banks over here?

How did bank holidays start?

According to Newsround: “In the UK, we’ve had official bank holidays since 1871, when they were formally recognised by an Act of Parliament.

“On these days, banks were allowed to close, which is where the name comes from. It wasn’t long, however, before other types of businesses and schools began to close their doors as well.”

However, we used to have more public holidays than we do now.

According to Britannica: “Before 1830 the Bank of England closed on approximately 40 saints’ days and anniversaries, but that year the number was reduced to 18 days.”

As we know, this has been reduced significantly since.

BBC Radio Four also noted: “The country with the highest number of public holidays is India, with a whopping 21 days!

“In comparison, England and Wales only have eight public holidays in total: New Year, Good Friday, Easter Monday, May Day, late May bank holiday, August bank holiday, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.”

Are public holidays good for our mental health?

Personally, an extra day off always makes me feel a bit brighter and according to research, public holidays improve social cohesion and capital.

Additionally, The Conversation noted: ”[Social cohesion and capital[ brings its own economic and wellbeing benefits. For all but a minority of the workforce, public holidays ensure that people are using it for leisure time. And social cohesion has long been associated with positive wellbeing.”

Feet up!