May Day bank holiday: Why did date change for 2020?

The early May bank holiday is taking place on Friday 8 May

Sabrina Barr
Tuesday 05 May 2020 11:03
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What are the UK's bank holidays in 2020?

Last June, it was announced that the date of the May Day bank holiday would be moved back four days for 2020.

The traditions of May Day, which include activities such as dancing around a maypole, are linked to pagan festivals and the celebration of spring.

The bank holiday is usually held on the first Monday of May, while a second bank holiday takes place on the last Monday of the month.

However, this year the early May bank holiday has been moved to Friday 8 May to coincide with a significant anniversary.

Why did the date for the May Day bank holiday change for 2020?

While the celebration of May Day is observed on 1 May, the May Day bank holiday has taken place on the first Monday of May since 1978.

It is associated with Beltane, the Gaelic May Day festival, which falls between the spring equinox and the summer solstice.

On May Day, it is tradition for those who celebrate it to dance around a maypole, which is believed to be rooted in the pagan tradition of cutting down young trees and sticking them in the ground to mark the arrival of summer.

Morris dancing also takes place on May Day in countries across the globe.

Last year, it was declared that the early May bank holiday would be moved to take place on the same day as VE Day, or Victory in Europe Day.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, which saw mass celebrations take place in the streets in 1945.

Upon the announcement of the bank holiday date change, Sir Andrew Gregory, chief executive of armed forces charity SSAFA, said it was a “fitting” idea.

“It is our duty to keep the events of the past alive in collective memory, including future generations — this is how we ensure that such a conflict never happens again,” Sir Gregory said.

“It is our hope that the nation takes a moment to reflect on the significance of this date, as a milestone that changed the course of history for the whole world.”

The May Day bank holiday is taking place on 8 May in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The second May bank holiday, which is taking place this year on Monday 25 May, replaced Whit Monday as a statutory bank holiday in 1971.

Whit Monday is a Christian holiday that is celebrated after the moveable feast of Pentecost, a holy day that is observed 50 days after Easter.

How did the announcement of the date change cause disruptions?

As the date change for the 2020 early May bank holiday was announced in June, the alteration caused some mayhem with regards to incorrectly printed calendars.

In December, it was reported that the majority of the UK’s 40 million diaries and calendars had already been printed by the time the announcement was made.

It was therefore estimated that approximately 30 million calendars were not produced accurately.

In June, an engaged couple spoke of their dismay as their wedding plans for the early May bank holiday went “out of the window” following the date change.

However, the coronavirus pandemic has since disrupted wedding plans for numerous couples who intended on tying the knot this spring and summer.

The Queen is to make a special televised address on Friday 8 May to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day.

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