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May Day Bank Holiday

Historical and cultural facts about this bank holiday!

Posted by on May 10th, 2020.

The origin of May Day

Early May Bank Holiday is a public holiday and in many places, this day marks the start of summer. People organise events in celebration of the end of the winter season, fertility, and hope of the approaching summer. Traditions include Morris Dancing, Maypoles and the crowning of the May Queen. However, this year, the Early May Bank Holiday was moved from Monday 4th to Friday 8th, to coincide with Victory in Europe Day (VE Day), which marks the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe.

VE Day – Historical Details

The Victory in Europe Day, is a celebration of the formal acceptance by the Allies of World War II of Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender of its armed forces.  After the suicide of the Nazi leader, Adolf Hitler, at the end of April in 1945, during the Battle of Berlin, the Victory was announced on May 8th, the day that Germanys surrender was authorities by Hitler’s successor. Although the official act of military surrender was first signed on May 7th, the document had to be modified and was only completely accepted on May 8th. Which is why 8th May 1945 was the official Victory in Europe day.

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VE Day traditions

This commemorative bank holiday is about celebrating the end of the Second World War in Europe, by continuing the traditions that originated by those who had survived this terrible moment in history. These traditions included, bonfires, parades, street parties, and gatherings that danced to the songs of victory into the early hours of the morning. Others put up state coloured flags, or adorn the house with such colours, or hung colourful bunting to line the streets across Britain. At the time, the news that the war was over in Europe quickly spread around the world, and people of the British Empire and the Allied countries commemorated the defeat of Nazi Germany. These traditions were shared by all to celebrate victory, freedom and liberty.


VE Day Celebrations

It must be hard to imagine what people went through during this time, and honouring their noble and valiant effort is the least people can do. It is a day to be marked and even back in 1945 celebrations continued. VE merchandise were bought, restaurants created ‘Victory’ menus and annual parades have taken place ever since. As a matter of fact, services are still held in local cathedrals, for remembrance prays and giving thanks for peace.

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2020 Celebrations

As mentioned at the beginning of this post, May bank holiday is celebrated on the first Monday of the month of May. However, this year the bank holiday was moved to a Friday. In fact, it is the second time in history that this has happened.The first time was back in 1995, so celebrations occurred on the 8th of May in honour of the 50th anniversary of VE Day.

This year, due to the pandemic and the lockdown we are all currently facing, celebrations were again moved to Friday the 8th of May. In spite of the restrictions that lockdown has brung, celebrations will still take place. Friday saw a 2-minute silence at 11 am, then at 3 pm everyone did a ‘toast to heroes’. The day finished with the Queen’s speech, when Her Majesty addressed the nation from Windsor Castle.

What an incredible day to honour those who did so much for the country 75 years ago. We hope everyone had a beautiful May Bank Holiday.

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