Useful words a bank holiday or public holiday: jour ferié Good Friday: Vendredi Saint Easter Monday:Lundi de Pâques Boxing Day = 26th December a maypole (n):mât enrubané fireworks (n): feu d’atifice
We are entering the month of May which, in France, is a month full of public holidays and long weekends – great for employees but not so great for employers! But what happens in the UK? British public holidays, or bank holidays as we usually call them, are a little different from our neighbouring European countries. For a start, we have fewer of them and the number is the same every year, always 8 in total: 1st January, the first and last Mondays in May, Good Friday, Easter Monday, the last Monday in August, Christmas Day and Boxing Day (if Christmas Day and Boxing Day fall on the weekend, we get the Monday and Tuesday as holiday instead). There are no public holidays for remembering the dead, the two World Wars or other Christian religious holidays such as Ascension Day and Assumption Day. While Northern Ireland has a day’s holiday for St Patrick’s Day, and people in Scotland can take a holiday on St Andrew’s Day (if they agree to work on another bank holiday) there is no public holiday on St George’s Day in England nor St David’s Day in Wales. Even the day on which we have fireworks (Guy Fawkes Night, 5th November) isn’t a holiday. In fact, we don’t even have a national day. Maybe this is because we never had a revolution, just a civil war which involved beheading a king only to restore the monarchy 11 years later! So what about the 1st May? Well, in the UK it’s known as May Day and celebrations of this day go back to the Roman period when people celebrated the goddess of flowers. These festivities were later mixed with pagan Celtic and Anglo Saxon traditions and the day was celebrated as the first day of summer. The farmers had finished sowing the fields and so they could take a day’s holiday. Traditions included village fêtes, the crowning of a May Queen and the famous dancing round the maypole with long ribbons - go to this link to see some photos: https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/nostalgia/gallery/maypole-dancing-9137285. The maypole dance is thought to have been brought to the UK by the Germanic tribes but no one knows for sure the reasons behind the dance – maybe it comes from a time when trees were sacred or maybe it’s a symbol of fertility. The tradition is kept alive today in villages around the UK as well as in primary schools – I can remember doing the dance myself when I was 6 years old! The 1st of May is not, however, a bank holiday in the UK unless it falls on a Monday. So this year, 2018, the May Day bank holiday is in fact on Monday 7th May! Who said things were easy to understand?! In the rest of the world, the 1st of May is also known as International Worker’s Day or Labour Day, which was started in the USA in the 1890s with the rise of trade unions and the 8 hour working day. While workers’ protests do take place in the UK, we associate this day much more with the end of spring and the arrival of summer and dancing round the maypole. Back in 2011 there were rumours that the British government was going to get rid of the May Day bank holiday and replace it with one in October, to celebrate a United Kingdom Day! We are still waiting….
Philippa Stacey a fondé Eureka en 2007. Elle vit et enseigne l’anglais aux professionnels en France depuis 1993. Eureka est un organisme de formation en langue anglaise certifié et agréé qui intervient essentiellement dans le Nord Isère.