There will be no fewer than three bank holidays in May 2023: on 1 May, 8 May and 29 May. The extra May holiday, on Monday 8 May, is to mark the coronation of King Charles III.
The extra day off in May means “savvy employees who are wanting to maximise their time off” can get “an extra chunk of leave” that “comprises a whole ten days off in one go, using just four days’ annual leave”, said the Liverpool Echo.
Workers “who don’t work weekends, and are given bank holidays off as standard” in fact “only need to actually take off Tuesday-Friday, May 2-5, and then you should also be off work on the Saturday, Sunday and following Monday (May 8), for the King’s coronation”, added the paper.
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The additional day off comes after we enjoyed an extra bank holiday to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022. The second May bank holiday – the spring bank holiday – was moved to Friday 3 June, and the additional day off was taken on Thursday 2 June, forming a four-day national holiday to mark the Queen’s 70 years on the throne.
But before planning for 2023’s bank holidays, there are still two bank holidays remaining in 2022. With Christmas Day falling on Sunday, that bank holiday will roll on to a substitute weekday – Tuesday 27 December.
Here are all the 2023 bank holiday dates:
- 2 January: New Year’s Day substitute
New Year’s Day falls on Sunday 1 January 2023, making the following Monday the first bank holiday of the year.
- 7 April: Good Friday
Two bank holidays on either side of the Easter weekend give the majority of UK workers a four-day break. Traditionally, Good Friday is a sombre day, when Christians mark Jesus’s crucifixion with prayer and fasting.
- 10 April: Easter Monday
Historically, the resurrection of Jesus was celebrated with egg-rolling and games – some of which, such as the Hallaton Bottle Kicking contest, are still played today.
- 1 May: Early May bank holiday
This festival marks the coming of spring and usually ties in with the traditional May Day activities, which are celebrated with maypoles, Morris dancing and village fairs in many parts of England.
- 8 May: Bank holiday for the coronation of King Charles III
The government has confirmed that there will be an additional UK-wide bank holiday in 2023 to mark the coronation of His Majesty King Charles III.
- 29 May: Spring bank holiday
The UK takes the day off and celebrates the spring bank holiday on the last Monday in May each year.
- 28 August: Summer bank holiday
This day off was first enshrined in the Bank Holidays Act 1871, when it fell at the beginning of August. It was moved to the last Monday in the month as part of the Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971.
- 25 December: Christmas Day
Although the nation does not grind to a halt as it used to on the big day, Christmas Day remains a bank holiday.
- 26 December: Boxing Day
Historically, UK employers offered workers and servants gifts or cash on 26 December and gave them the day off. While the gifts may have dried up in many modern workplaces, the day remains a bank holiday.
Is it the same in Scotland and Northern Ireland?
Since 2006, Scotland has had an extra day off for St Andrew’s Day on 30 November, although it does not treat Easter Monday as a bank holiday.
North of the border, the summer bank holiday is also held on the first Monday of August rather than the last.
Northern Ireland has the same days off as England and Wales, with the addition of St Patrick’s Day on 17 March and Battle of the Boyne (Orangemen’s Day) on 12 July.
The latter commemorates William of Orange’s crushing victory over James II in 1690, which secured the Protestant ascendancy in Ireland for generations. It still retains huge symbolic importance in Northern Ireland and has been the focus of sectarian unrest in the past.
How does this compare to the rest of Europe?
The average number of bank holidays enjoyed by EU countries is 12.8, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) said this year, describing the UK’s allocation as “stingy”.
The usual eight days allotted to workers in England and Wales are some of the lowest in Europe. Austria celebrates 13 nationally, while Denmark, Norway and France have ten. Switzerland has just four national bank holidays, though there are a total of 16 which are celebrated in different regions around the country.
Will the UK ever introduce more bank holidays?
On the summer bank holiday in 2022, the TUC called for workers to be rewarded “for getting us through through these tough times” with additional days off “to break the long stretch” between the end of August and the Christmas break.
Over the years there have been calls to either scrap the early May bank holiday or move it to a different date so breaks are more evenly spread throughout the year.
In 2011 the coalition government launched a consultation that included the suggestion of moving the May bank holiday to October to be a UK Day or Trafalgar Day to commemorate the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
There are also political motivations behind the proposed move. Despite its roots as a holiday stretching back to pre-Christian pagan festivals, May Day is strongly associated with International Workers’ Rights Day, “which some think has marked it out as a political target”, said the BBC.
Some people have also long complained that England and Wales fail to honour St George’s Day and St David’s Day, unlike Scotland and Northern Ireland, which have a day off to mark their patron saint.
Labour’s 2017 general election manifesto pledged to introduce four new bank holidays to mark the patron saints of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland across the whole of the UK.
Under the proposals, the nationwide public holidays would be held on St David’s Day (1 March), St Patrick’s Day (17 March), St George’s Day (23 April) and St Andrew’s Day (30 November).
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