Early May Bank Holiday in United Kingdom
The Early May Bank Holiday, also known as May Day, is a public holiday in the United Kingdom (UK). This annual event is celebrated on the first Monday of May, providing workers with a day off and an extended weekend.
The Early May Bank Holiday was officially introduced in the UK in 1978 by the then Employment Secretary, Michael Foot. The idea behind the holiday was to create a day off for workers to enjoy the arrival of spring and to provide a break between Easter and the late Spring Bank Holiday. May Day has been traditionally celebrated throughout the UK since ancient times, with various customs and traditions associated with the event, such as dancing around the Maypole and crowning a May Queen.
National customs for the Early May Bank Holiday in the United Kingdom
Although the Early May Bank Holiday is a relatively recent addition to the UK's calendar of public holidays, several customs and traditions have been passed down from ancient May Day celebrations. One such tradition is dancing around the Maypole, a tall wooden pole adorned with colourful ribbons. People, especially children, hold onto the ribbons and dance around the Maypole, weaving the ribbons into intricate patterns.
Another popular May Day custom is the crowning of the May Queen, a young girl chosen to represent the arrival of spring. She is dressed in white and adorned with flowers, and often leads a procession through the town or village. In some areas, a May King may also be crowned alongside the May Queen.
Local customs for the Early May Bank Holiday in the United Kingdom
Local customs for the Early May Bank Holiday vary across the UK. In some areas, people celebrate by participating in traditional Morris dancing, a form of English folk dance characterized by rhythmic stepping and choreographed group movements using sticks, swords, and handkerchiefs.
In Oxford, the city welcomes the arrival of May with a traditional event known as May Morning. This centuries-old tradition sees thousands of people gather on the streets of Oxford at dawn to listen to the choir of Magdalen College perform hymns from the top of the college's bell tower.
In Padstow, Cornwall, the local community celebrates the Early May Bank Holiday with the 'Obby 'Oss festival. The event features a parade with participants dressed in colourful costumes, accompanied by music and dance. The highlight of the parade is the 'Obby 'Oss, a large, horse-like figure made from a circular frame covered with a black cloth.
The Early May Bank Holiday in the United Kingdom is a day to celebrate the arrival of spring and enjoy a well-deserved break between Easter and the late Spring Bank Holiday. With a wide range of customs and traditions observed throughout the country, from Maypole dancing to the 'Obby 'Oss festival, the Early May Bank Holiday offers a unique insight into the UK's rich cultural heritage.