Public Holiday Observation in Britain
A holiday is a day set apart by law or custom, where normal everyday activities, particularly work or school including church, are either suspended or totally reduced. In most cases, such holidays are meant to let people celebrate or remember an occasion or tradition of social or spiritual importance. For instance, Christmas is celebrated with great joy and happiness around the world whereas Valentine’s Day is devoted to love and romance. Holidays remind us that we should enjoy the good times and leave the routine routines behind.
Most countries have their own version of the national holidays; however, in the US, most states do not have official holidays designated by the government. These unofficial holidays can be celebrated by anybody including children, students and employees in local schools, churches, synagogues, and in the office workplace. There are also major public holidays and some states have statutory holidays which are legal and recognized all over the US. In most cases, these public holidays, like Thanksgiving, Flag Day and Halloween, are observed mostly on the second weekend in November. The government holiday, which is considered to be the most popular in the US is the national Thanksgiving.
The most common and favorite holidays observed around the world include Christmas, Easter, New Year’s, thanksgiving, and Hanukkah. However, there are many other traditions which also deserve mention such as St. Patrick’s Day (which is celebrated February 14), Mother’s day, Father’s day and Valentine’s day. Many countries observe some of the special religious meanings of their festivals such as fasting day, Buddha’s birthday, harvest day and other holidays. Although not officially recognized by the government, these religious holidays have great significance to believers. They allow individuals, families and groups to observe their religious symbolism in their own way and to share in the community with other individuals who also have the same meaning of the holiday.
Some of the most popular holidays which are regularly observed around the world include Chinese New Year, Good Friday, Christmas and New Year’s Day. China observes a special Spring Festival, a celebration of the Chinese lunar calendar and Chinese traditional festivals such as the lunar New Year. Brazil observes Brazilian carnivals such as the Carnival and soccer festivals. All these holidays encourage individuals to observe their culture and to share in the general celebrations of the country.
Even with the implementation of new laws by many states to prevent discrimination of employees on the basis of their religion, many employers still follow the practice of having regular church or synagogue meetings to observe the legal holiday. Many employers provide breakfast and lunch at work for employees to show respect and observance of the holiday. In addition, many restaurants and cafe’s provide a free coffee for their customers on the weekends and in the mid-morning. Many hotels in major cities also hold religious services either on the weekends or during the mid-morning.
The government in Britain also recognizes the importance of maintaining the tradition of holiday observances among the population. On British public holidays, children are encouraged to take part in the various traditions of the holiday and parents are encouraged to send children to school on Bank Holidays. A majority of local councils in Britain also restrict the posting of photographs on the walls of houses and block the displaying of any commercial advertisements on the streets on Bank Holidays.