Wednesday, April 22, 2009

No historical relevance?

Have just read an hilarious post about making St George's Day a national holiday on Labourhome. It;s not the argument about St George's Day that is hilarious but the following comment in the post,
Personally, I'd like to scrap the random bank holidays we have now and have meaningful holidays which have some historical relevance instead.
Random holidays with no historical relevance? Errr lets see...

  • New Years Day: Hardly random, the full cycle of the planet around the sun and the beginning of a new cycle. Plus everyone has a hangover and wouldn't want to go to work.
  • Good Friday: Not sure if there is any history around this one, something about some carpenter meeting his own working implements I think. Oh yes, and also the beginning of the pagan Spring Equinox weekend.
  • Easter Monday: That'll be the day of ascension but more accurately the anglo-saxon pagan festival of the Spring Equinox. No historical relevance to England there whatsoever!
  • May Day: Anglo-saxon pagan festival.
  • Whitsunday: That will be Pentecost then and the coming of Christ in the form of flames. Also timed around the Spring Equinox though.
  • August Bank Holiday: I'll give them this one, random summer day off but boy do we all love it. Reading Festival anyone?
  • Christmas Day: Celebrating strange birth of already mentioned carpenter. Held during the Winter Solstice a great time of historical merriment for our Anglo-Saxon forefathers.
  • Boxing Day: Actually known as the Feast of St Stephen with bugger all historical relevance at all.
Don't get me wrong, I'm all for another national holiday to celebrate England's Turkish Patron saint.

17 comments:

Twig said...

How about a holiday commemorating the day New Labour gets kicked out of government? People will be able to remember what disasters Labour governments always turn out to be and hopefully prevent such disasters in future.

Plato said...

They should make it April 1st. That has genuine historical significance - it was the start of the new year week in days of olde.

Conand said...

Good post Dizzy. I cannot but agree. I have two geeky things I have to add:

Christmas Day pre-dates the Anglo-Saxons in Britain as it is a reworking of the Feast of Sol Invictus (The Late Roman Pagan Cult of the 'Unconquered Sun') and therefore dates back to the 3rd Century. The the Feast of Sol Invictus imported the traditions of the Sigillaria, in which gifts were exchanged.
*Puts on po face*: St. George wasn't really Turkish he was a Graeco-Roman. He was from what we now call Asia Minor, which wasn't invaded by the Turks until the 11th Century. Like the Sol Invictus cult, St. George was around in the 3rd century.

Infoholic UK said...

Rather than having another useless rainy day holiday, how about we change it so that than one of the holidays actually falls during peak summer, rather than one at the start, one the end and all the others in the winter.

I'm sure we can find something of historical significance in late July.

Wyrdtimes said...

England doesn't need another day's holiday it needs it's own Parliament, an end to the "English regions" project and equal funding per person from central government as Scotland.

Better still would be complete independence.

A Pedant said...

Actually, St. George wasn't Turkish - you see, the Turks hadn't yet invaded that area. In the time when he was about it would have been Asiatic Greece.

Ed said...

Love the blog, Dizzy, but I think you're wrong on this one.

Sure -- *notionally* almost all our bank holidays have some kind of precedent, or they wouldn't have been there in the first place... but how many are actually used, today, to mark something calendar-specific that's really significant? How many bring something to our culture or our economy besides "a day off"?

New Year's Day, Christmas Day and Good Friday -- sure.

Boxing Day and Easter Monday -- appreciated, but they're only there because of which holidays they're next to. Both are relatively recent additions to the holiday calendar. Sunday is still the 'main' holy day of Easter in most of the world; and why St Stephen's Day and not St John's or the Feast of the Holy Innocents or Epiphany or...? Not that I'd want to scrap either.

But the other three qualify to me as random. They have no intrinsic significance that's really remembered these days at all. I like the idea of May Day, but does anyone still celebrate it? The late May one, I don't even know what that is. It's not Pentecost because it moves, and I think the spring equinox is two months before. As far as I can tell, it's for Victoria Day which seems rather hollow since she's been dead for a century.

There must be dates more worthy of observing. 23 April may be one. 11 November and 15 June (Magna Carta Day) are popular choices I've heard. Owain Glyndwr Day is in early September I believe. The Harvest Festival is a great thing so bring back Michaelmas on 29 September and dedicate it to charitable projects.

If we're seriously trying to raise the profile of scientists or engineers, why not dedicate a day to Brunel or Herschel or Darwin?

Just find the days which bring the most value to the nation -- both culturally and economically.

Robert said...

I think we should have the same days as Teachers and MP's. This would allow the unemployed to work during our days off, thus cutting unemployment for ever, no over time and no working at all on your days off. What would we call them , call them what you like so long as you do not call me to early

Anonymous said...

I don't want to puncture Dizzy's simple faith that our Christian holidays are actually pagan festivals but the dates of Good Friday, Easter, and Whit (Pentecost - and not a Bank holiday for years) as celebrated by Western Christians have no relation to the equinox which unlike Easter and Whit is fixed. These dates are shared throughout Catholic Christians from all over the world and were established long before and far away from Anglo Saxon England. Originally early Christians used to follow the date of the Jewish Passover (when the Gospel story was set) and although the mechanisms laid down in the early church have led to differences between the Jewish passover and Christian Easter they are still both based on the phases of the moon rather than the sun.

Christmas, of course, does not start tillafter the Winter Solstice.

Actually, given the role of Christianity in British history I'd have thought all our religious holidays have historical relevance.

And by the way, St George - and was he "turkish" - Georgian or Armenian perhaps - was the saint to whom English soldiers prayed and whose cross they wore. Lots of historical relevance there - and don't forget that Ireland's Patrick was actually a Welshman.

Matt London

dizzy said...

Different pedantry aside, yoo;re all making the same point that I was making here, that the bank holiday dates are historically based for most the part and not random.

Demetrius said...

Surely New Labour will be giving most of the adult population, as well as the whole of the teenage population holidays from 1st January to 31 December? They will be classified as retired (like it or not), sick (just wink at your family doctor), reserve labour force (classified hopeless case), in training (working in the booze and sex industries), or active in the education industry.

Anonymous said...

"I'm sure we can find something of historical significance in late July."

First Day of the Somme? Bit depressing though...

Ed said...

I think you're using the letter of what was said to defeat the spirit of what was said though. No, technically, they aren't literally random dates; but in the "that's totally random, man" sense they are, because they could be almost anywhere on the calendar and you could draw up the same list of historical relevance.

Anonymous said...

Boxing Day:wasn't that a hunnish practice of giving presents[in boxes]introduced into the country by our German monarchy in the late 18th century...

Anonymous said...

Yes, but they are very unevenly spaced. And Easter is a bit of a nuisance the way it jumps around against the solar calendar. Give me a fairly stable vernal equinox celebration or St George's Day or both.

Thatsnews said...

I can remember a time when we did have to work on New Year's Day. And it wasn't that long ago...

Anonymous said...

Trafalgar Day, 23rd October
1. Nicely situated between August Bank holiday and Christmas
2. Will occur in most schools half term.
3. It will annoy the French