Thursday, 23 April 2009

Happy Saint George's Day

God Save The Queen.

When will this be a public holiday throughout the United Kingdom? Why is it not already?


  1. Because we already have two bank holidays in May and two more at Easter any time between late March and early May.

    Also, why should it be?

  2. Aaway with pointless celebrations of the mere fact that the banks are on holiday. Saint David’s Day, Saint Patrick’s Day and Saint George’s Day are all in the spring, these islands’ best season.

    And having a public holiday on Saint Andrew’s Day would serve the same function as Thanksgiving does in the United States: it would just be bad form, and simply not done, to display anything to do with Christmas until this preceding festival was out of the way. Happily, the day after Saint Andrew’s Day is the First of December.

  3. What about Easter?

  4. What about it? It would - indeed, it must - stay exactly as it is.

    The real Whit Monday should be restored, and Ascension Day made a public holiday along with it.

    Christmas Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday and Boxing Day should be retained, and Commonwealth Day (not Trafalgar Day, for who wants to sit in the wind and rain marking an inconclusive battle at which our admiral died?) added to them.

    Giving eleven, concentrated in our islands’ glorious spring and early summer. But eleven is an odd number in more than one sense. How to arrive at a nice, round dozen?

    Well, if the Epiphany were restored as a public holiday, then so could be the ancient, yet really quite recently practised, observances of Twelfth Night, secure in the knowledge that there would be no work the next day.

    No, the world would not simply shut down from lunchtime on Christmas Eve until the morning of 7th January, as it very largely does from lunchtime on Christmas Eve until the morning of 2nd January at the moment; the length of time would be too long for that. This way, there would be a real gap between the holidays.

    As, of course, there was historically, unless anyone really imagines that even subsistence farmers ever stopped work for twelve days on the trot. And the holidays themselves would mean something.

    As much as anything else, the erection of Ascension Day and the Epiphany as public holidays would force the “Catholic” Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales to reverse its petulant lashing out against the election of an orthodox Catholic as Pope, namely its transfer of those holy days to the following Sundays, so that (unless we can attend thin-on-the-ground Latin Masses) we no longer get to celebrate them on the same day as the Holy Father, even though members of the Church of England and the Church in Wales do.

    With the enthronment of the new, dalmatic-under-his-chasuble-wearing, Archbishop of Westminster on the real Ascension Day this year, things would in any case seem to be moving back in that right direction. Jolly good.

  5. If there were a public holiday on St Andrew's Day it would become what the day after Thanksgiving is in the States - an orgy of pre-Christmas sales stampedes. No thanks.

    May Day has a glorious pro-worker tradition. And you want to abolish it?

  6. We have those stampedes anyway. We may as well wait until Decemnber before we start them.

    As for May Day, there was nothing pro-worker about the Soviet Union, and there is nothing pro-worker about the countries that still keep it.

    The real workers' tradition, which like so many others survived here far longer than anywhere else, was to have Whit Monday off.

  7. We don't even keep the proper May Day here. If it has to be a Monday then it may as well be a Monday that means something like Easter Monday, Whit Monday.

  8. Means something to who?

  9. Well, indeed.

    Most people think that the day in place of Whit Monday still us, and the day before it is Whit Sunday. In other words, they want to keep Whit, and even pretend or imagine that they still do.

    Christmas Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Boxing Day, Saint George's Day, Saint Andrew's Day, Saint David's Day, Saint Patrick's Day, Ascension Day, Whit Monday, Commonwealth Day, the Epiphany: they all mean something. Nowhere else are there holidays that mean nothing, just because a certain number of weeks has passed so it is felt that there ought to be a long weekend.

  10. Means something objectively. You may or may not like the meaning, but it is there.

    And means something within the massively predominant, and historically definitive, culture of this country.

    What do the current Bank Holidays mean? Why have them?

  11. Why are you using public holidays as a means of religious instruction?

    There is no better reason for having a holiday than that you haven't had one in a while.

  12. To get a day off?

  13. Christmas/Boxing Day/New Year's: It's winter, it's dark and cold and miserable. Let's stuff ourselves, get drunk and throw a big party to cheer ourselves up.

    Easter/May Day: It's spring! Things are growing again, life is blooming, let's get out there and revel in it.

    End May/August: It's summer! The sun is shining, the sand is golden, let's strip off and bask its rays.

    We've always held festivals at these times, for exactly these reasons.

  14. Yes, for far too long we've let people have holidays out of laziness, when they should be used to reinforce our idea of what Britain should be.

  15. Not mutually exclusive, Gilbert. They manage both in every other country.

    Ninian, we used to have proper ones, with names and stories and everything, like everywhere else. We still have a few. But nowhere near enough.

    Cuthbert, why?

    George, do you even know what the word "holiday" means? Take a look at it.

  16. Yes, it used to mean "day of compulsory religious observation" and now it means "day off work". What does "derivation" mean? Take a look at it.

  17. 'Cos all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

  18. Not as dull as the current Bank Holidays, marking nothing in particular.

    George, you need to look up "observation".

    Is, say, Germany now noted as a centre of mandatory religious devotion? Check out the public holidays there.

  19. Ah, so tying public holidays to religious festivals doesn't actually change people's attitudes or behaviour in any way? Not sure why you want to bother then.

  20. Hello David.

    Forgive me, but i must post a rant. I will first clean up my soapbox.

    Right, i think that it is high time that we celebrated St. George's Day. Be proud to be English. St. Patrick's Day has long been a recognised public holiday in Ireland, so why on earth can't we celebrate St. George's Day? After all, we are the very core of the British Isles. Our celebrations should lead by example.

  21. What do you think would happen to the culture of Britain if we had these storied, traditional holidays?

    I think at least 95% of people would treat them no differently from our current bank holidays - a day off to go shopping, hit the beach or recover from a stonking hangover.

  22. Most Scottish people seem to know when St Andrews Days is.
    Most Welsh people seem to know when St Davids Day is.
    Most Irish people seem to know when St Patricks Day is.
    I know very few English people who know when St Georges Day is (I think its in April but dont quote me).
    If English people cant be bothered, I dont see why the Welsh and Scots should be bothered.

  23. George, yes it does. People behave quite different at Christmas or even Easter than on mere Bank Holidays. There is a reason for that.

    And it rather answers Aidan's point: what makes you think that the shops would be open, or at least open all day? They aren't all day on Easter Sunday. They aren't at all on Christmas Day. This works perfectly well in many other countries with proper holidays.

    Neil, spot on. But all four days should be holidays throughout the United Kingdom: being British is integral to what each of them celebrates, and vice versa.

  24. It's today, John.

    And most people do know when it is - there are real ale promotions and so forth. It's just not a public holiday. It should be.

  25. Saint George is also the Patron Saint of Georgia.

  26. And Saint Andrew is also the Patron Saint of Russia.

    Saint George is also the Patron Saint of Portugal, as I should have mentioned in another of today's posts.

  27. Ah, so Germany is now noted as centre of religious devotion?

  28. Precisely not, as I said. Although, of course, parts of it are.

    But look at which days are public holidays there. And any German can tell you what they mean.

    This one has really riled you, hasn't it? That says a very great deal.

    More holidays than now, most of them in the nice weather, no suggestion that you'd be made to go to church or anything like that.

    But you can't stick it. You cannot bear the idea of holidays like these. They must not be allowed to exist.

  29. I thunk it was when you suggested the shops may not be open all day that you really annoyed them.

  30. I think you're onto something there. Just how conservative capitalism isn't, and all that. See today's Old Labour post for how it took USDAW to stop Thatcher and Major from turning Sunday and even Christmas Day into normal shopping days. Tesco, ergo sum.

    And they are entitled to holidays, but the likes of shop assistants and delivery workers are not

  31. Its a bit like the Fishing thing......nobody really cares.
    Cant see anybody putting it in a European Election Manifesto (not even Colin Duffy who is allegedly planning to stand)

  32. David, why should St George's Day be a national holiday? In fact, what justification is there for any form of nationalism at all? Countries are arbitrarily delineated land masses, nothing more.

  33. Hell, make Diwali a public holiday - it's got a meaning.

  34. And Eid. Eid cycles through the year, so it wouldn't always fall in the same season.

  35. They are not, of course, part of the predominant and definitive culture here.

    But Tory vehicles did tour Ealing Southall promising to make them public holidays, and the Tories now want "community leaders" to have the power to do this in return for getting their mates to fill in all the postal votes in their households in favour of the Bullingdon Boys.

    Jo Secher, don't be silly. Just move between any two countries, even if only for a day.

    John, people care, all right.

  36. "They are not, of course, part of the predominant and definitive culture here."

    So what? There are plenty of Muslims and Hindus here who would appreciate having a bank holiday to recognise their festivals, and most non-Muslims and Hindus would appreciate it too.

  37. "So what?"? If you have to ask, then there is no point telling you.

    How few can "plenty" be?

    And promising this certainly didn't do the Tories any good in Ealing Southall. There is no demand.

  38. No demand? There's no demand for an Ascension Day bank holiday either. Nor Whit Monday. Nor Epiphany. Nor Commonwealth Day.

    Is demand an important argument or not?

  39. Not especially, but it was Calopl's.

    Most people think that there still is a Whit Monday holiday.

    And how do you know? The electorate of a very Asian area was offered the chance to vote for a candidate who wanted Hindu, Muslim and Sikh festivals to be public holidays. He came third, basically out of three.

    But no very Christian area (seventy-two per cent of the population) is ever offered a candidate who wants Christian festivals - integral to this country's identity, whereas Hindu, Muslim and Sikh ones are not - to be restored in place of the pointless, meaningless Bank Holidays.

    As for Commonwealth Day, it would unite the broadly (and in many cases very) Christian whites and very Christian blacks with the Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs.

    I remain fascinated at just how much this suggestion vexes you all.

  40. People weren't much vexed. I think the major objection, made up thread, to a St George's Day bank holiday is simply that there are already plenty at this time of year. I don't honestly think that anyone's that exercised either way, but you haven't made a remotely convincing case for bringing back a bunch more Christian festivals as bank holidays.

    In general, though, I wouldn't mistake gentle questioning of ill-thought-through policy ideas as vexation. Apart from anything else, you're not going to get anywhere with them.

  41. "there are already plenty at this time of year"

    You can't read, can you?

    Bank Holidays celebrate capitalism in all its godless greed and oppression of the poor, even to the point that low-paid workers have to work anyway to give the likes of you the day that you want, and assume as of right. It is notable that that still doesn't (yet) happen on Christmas Day, a proper festival.

    That i why you like Bank Holidays. And that is why you hate proper festivals.

  42. He can read, but he chooses not to.

    Also notice how these people are all in favour of Eid or Diwali and certainly don't claim that a campaign for those will never get anywhere. Conventiently foreign and exotic. No suggestion that their own culture has Christian roots.

    Even the name of Bank Holidays "celebrates capitalism in all its godless greed and oppression of the poor", you really have hit the nail on the head there.

  43. No, it isn't. I said "bank holidays", but I'm quite happy to say "public holidays" instead. And I have no problem with demands for workers to be entitled to demand the day off.

    As it happens, my employer requires me to work both the bank holidays in May - so I'm not getting "the day that you want, and assume as of right".

  44. But he'd never make you work on Christmas Day, just as you'd never be made to work on the religious and/or patriotic holidays on the Continent, or the patriotic holidays in America.

    Because they are real. They matter. They have proper names because they have proper reasons.

    And that is why they are proper holidays, observed as such.

    Only here do we not have such things. We just have Bank Holidays instead. And people are made to work on them. After all, why not? It's not as if they really matter.

  45. I don't honestly believe that my employer would have given me those days off if they had been religious public holidays rather than secular ones - May is simply an unavoidably busy month for us.

    For that matter, all the shops were open on Good Friday and Easter Monday.

  46. He would in any other country, for a proper holiday. He would insist on taking it himself, for that matter. There is simply no concept of "unavoidably busy" where this sort of thing is concerned.

    Good Friday and Easter Monday are being organised under the baleful influence of the holidays for no reason. We either get rid of them, or we lose not only Easter, but soon enough Christmas as well.

  47. "We either get rid of them, or we lose not only Easter, but soon enough Christmas as well."

    Now that's just silly. There's no public or political interest in losing either of them, and it would be political suicide to try and get rid of them. Any political debate that exists around this issue (not very much) is about whether more should be added, not whether some should be taken away.

  48. You've said yourself, it's already happening to Easter.

  49. No political interest? The Major government was defeated by one vote on the floor of the Commons when it tried to make Christmas a normal shopping day.

  50. Yes, stopped by a coalition of Old Labour and the Old Tories. Who could do that now, though? Never mind in the next Parliament?

    So much for Major's self-presentation as the voice and guardian of Old England, of course.

  51. On my own Blog and other "Journal" website, I posted a message of good wishes to my English friends and other English readers.
    While I have no doubt that SOME were AFFECTING not to know that it was St Georges Day and SOME others accepted my good wishes, I have to report that SOME did not really know.
    I have to conclude that your assertion that "people do care" is at variance with my own very unscientific findings.
    One respondent insisted that the Trooping The Colour ceremony takes place on "St Georges Day" but I was able to point out this was confused with the Official Birthday in July/August.

  52. David, yet again the puerile moniker changer, who incidentally has arguments with himself and it fools no-one, is playing games. I wouldn't be at all surprised if 'anonymous' here is one of those warmongering cretins over at Harry's.

    Keep up the good work!

  53. Stephen Alexander26 April 2009 at 10:29

    I agree with Shlomo - impersonation really should be made some kind of offence. Post under your own name or not at all.

  54. David, this is very loosely related to your post, I hope you don't mind.
    I have a question about listing saints' names in the front portions of books. For some reason, out of all the bloggers I read, I think you would know.

    Specifically, what does it mean when an author, after he's written an introduction or acknowledgment section in his book, writes his name and in the line below that, lists a saint. For example,

    Pierre McSwain
    St. George's Day

    What is the meaning of listing the saint? Thanks