When is the next bank holiday in May 2017 and why do we take the day off?

When are the bank holidays in May 2017?

There are two bank holidays in May - the first was Monday May 1 (sorry, you've missed it) and the second is Monday May 29.

Early May bank holiday

The bank holiday at the beginning of May, known as the early May bank holiday, was kindly introduced by the then employment secretary Michael Foot in 1978, just before he went on to lead the Labour Party.

At the time many opposed the move saying a May Day holiday was essentially a communist idea because most countries behind the Iron Curtain used May 1 to celebrate International Workers' Day.

Late May bank holiday - or Spring bank holiday

The second bank holiday falls just a few weeks later on Monday May 29.

The 1871 Act designated four holidays in England, Wales and Ireland. These were Easter Monday, Whit Monday (which could fall anywhere between May 11 and June 14, the first Monday in August and Boxing Day (December 26, the day after Christmas Day).

Whit Monday, or Pentecost Monday, is celebrated the day after Pentecost - which is determined by the date of Easter.

In 1971, the Whitsun holiday was replaced with a fixed holiday, known as the Spring bank holiday, which falls on the last Monday in May.

Are the shops open on bank holidays?

As millions of Britons head away for the Bank Holiday weekend, many more will stay at home.

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