Magoosh GRE

Enjoy these Public Holidays while studying in the UK

| February 1, 2012 | 0 Comments

The first public holiday of every year is January 1st when the British population has a chance to recover after the parties that happened on New Year’s Eve. On the stroke of midnight people start hugging and kissing each other while welcoming in the New Year. In Scotland this tradition is accompanied by ‘first-footing’ when people visit their friends and neighbours to wish them a good year and traditionally take a piece of coal. The festivities usually include the singing of “Auld Lang Syne” and you would do well to have a look at the words prior to New Year’s Eve so that you can join in with gusto. There are different traditions throughout the UK but Scotland is the place to be to experience the full delights of New Year.

If you are studying in Wales on the 1st of March you might witness a street parade or people wearing daffodils or leeks in their lapels as this is Saint David’s day.

If you are studying in Ireland, or in Birmingham, then the 17th March will be a red letter day as it is Saint Patrick’s Day, in remembrance of the patron Saint of Ireland who rid the island of snakes. There are parades throughout Ireland and in places on the British mainland where the Irish have become established. The parades celebrate the “wearing of the green” and you may find green beer and ice cream are in demand on this day. There will be green shamrocks (leaves like those of the common clover) also being worn. This is also the time of the Cheltenham Festival which is one of the biggest events in the horse racing calendar.

In April the English celebrate Saint George’s day but the date may vary because of Easter which also has variable dates, but may be held at any time between the end of March and the beginning of May. This is a religious holiday but people give each other chocolate Easter eggs and in some places roll them down mountains. (This also happens with cheeses at different times of year in different parts of Britain.)

The first Monday in May is Mayday, which often doesn’t fall on the 1st as it does in other countries. Britain has its public holidays (or Bank holidays as they are termed) on Mondays. At this time there are various cultural events all over the country. The same is true of the last Monday in August and the first Monday in June. In 2012 the 5th June is the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and there will be many celebrations throughout the UK.

October 31st is Halloween when children bob for apples and now also carve pumpkins and dress up in fancy dress and go around their neighbourhoods trick or treating. University students frequently see this as an occasion for a little lunacy too.

November the 5th is Guy Fawkes Night which is a celebration with fireworks and bonfires organized by local communities to commemorate Guy Fawkes’ (and others’) foiled  attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament. This isn’t a public holiday, but a national excuse to have a party.

Finally on December 24th it is Christmas Eve, followed by Christmas and Boxing Day, the latter being one when people leave their homes and go out for the day to one of the scheduled events. On the last day of the year it’s New Year’s Eve which is not a public holiday, but an evening full of parties (to attend which you may have to buy a ticket).

Britain is not a Catholic country so there is no Carnival season as there is in Italy, Greece and Brazil among other countries. However there are plenty of other holidays to enjoy, and its cheap to travel to both Greece and Italy to celebrate Carnival in those countries.

Tags: ,

Category: International Student Guide

Ask a question about this article

You must be logged in to post a comment.