Seasonal and Public Holidays

UK Public Holidays

Public Holiday Dates
Good Friday & Easter Monday Dates vary from late March through to April
May Day First Monday in May
Spring Bank Holiday The last Monday in May
Summer Bank Holiday The last Monday in August
Christmas Day 25th December
Boxing Day 26th December
New Years Day 1st January

The following links, UK Public Holidays  and Time and Date provide information on bank holidays, vacations and special occasions in the UK.

UK Seasonal Celebrations

Easter Celebrations (Dates vary from late March through to April)

In the UK children still decorate eggs, but most British people simply exchange chocolate eggs on Easter Sunday. Chocolate Easter Bunnies can be found in shops. Many families have a traditional Sunday roast, particularly roast lamb, and eat foods like Simnel cake, a fruit cake with eleven marzipan balls representing the eleven faithful apostles. Hot cross buns, spiced buns with a cross on top, are traditionally associated with Good Friday, but today are eaten through Holy Week and the Easter period. Again this is a time when traditionally families will come together.

Halloween (31st October)

Halloween is a holiday celebrated on October 31. Halloween activities include trick-or-treating, ghost tours, bonfires, costume parties, visiting haunted attractions, carving jack-o'-lanterns out of pumpkins, reading scary stories, and watching horror movies. Irish and Scottish immigrants carried versions of the tradition to North America in the nineteenth century. Other western countries embraced the holiday in the late twentieth century.

Halloween costumes are traditionally those of monsters such as ghosts, skeletons, witches, and devils. Costumes are also based on themes other than traditional horror, such as those of characters from television shows and movies.

There are several games traditionally associated with Halloween parties. The most common, is dunking or apple bobbing, in which apples float in a tub or a large basin of water; the participants must use their teeth to remove an apple from the basin.

Guy Fawkes Night (5th November)

Guy Fawkes Night (also known as Bonfire Night, Cracker Night, Fireworks Night) is an annual celebration on the evening of the 5th of November. It celebrates the foiling of the Gunpowder Plot of the 5th of November 1605 in which a number of Catholic conspirators, including Guy Fawkes, attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London, England.

In the United Kingdom, celebrations take place in towns and villages across the country in the form of both private and civic events. They involve fireworks displays and the building of bonfires on which traditionally "guys" are burnt, although this practice is not observed regularly in modern times. These "guys" are traditionally effigies of Guy Fawkes.

Christmas Celebrations (24th to 26th December)

The Christmas season starts at Advent, where holly wreaths are made with five candles. However many shops sell Christmas decorations beforehand. It lasts until 6 January (Epiphany), as it is considered bad luck to have Christmas decorations up after this date. On Christmas Eve, presents are supposedly delivered in stockings and under the Christmas tree by Father Christmas. Many families tell their children traditional Christmas stories, about Father Christmas and his reindeer. One tradition is to put out a plate of carrots (for the reindeer) and mince pies and sherry for Father Christmas, to help him on his way. On Christmas Day, nearly the whole population has the day off to be with their family and friends, so they can gather around for a traditional Christmas meal, which is mainly a turkey or other meats, along with cranberries, parsnips, roast potatoes, quite like the Sunday roast, followed by a Christmas Pudding. During the meal, Christmas crackers are often pulled containing toys, jokes and a paper hat. Another tradition is Carol singing, where carols are sung by children on people's doorsteps, and by professional choirs. Other traditions include sending Christmas cards.

New Year (31st December to 1st January)

January 1 marks the end of a period of remembrance of a particular passing year, especially on radio, television, and in newspapers, which usually starts right after Christmas Day. Publications often have year-end articles that review the changes during the previous year. Common topics include politics, natural disasters, music and the arts, and the listing of significant individuals who died during the past year. Often there are also articles on planned or expected changes in the coming year, such as the description of new laws that often take effect on January 1.

Although New Year’s Day is a public holiday, the main celebration is on the evening of 31 December, which is called New Year’s Eve. There are often fireworks at midnight, and traditionally children are allowed to stay up until midnight to ‘see in the new year’. It is also a memorable occasion to make New Year's resolutions, which they hope to fulfill in the coming year; the most popular ones in the western world include to stop tobacco smoking or drinking alcohol, or to lose weight or get physically fit.