No one in the U.K. takes a vacation. They go on holiday (small “h” – pronounced “haytch”). Which is, you know, a vacation. We celebrate Holidays in the U.S. – Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, etc. (capital “H” – pronounced “aytch”). And then there are Bank Holidays in the U.K. which are similar to our Holidays; Boxing Day, Whit Monday, and St. David’s Day (in Wales) to name a few. So here in England we go on holiday and we have Holidays but those are called Bank Holidays. Are you still following me? It all gets very complicated for this American.
Of course the Bank Holiday that we’re most looking forward to here in the United Kingdom is The Queen’s Jubilee. Next Monday and Tuesday we will have two days to celebrate Elizabeth II’s 60 years on the throne. Already many towns and villages have begun celebrations. Union Jacks and bunting abound! Street fairs, barbeques, and garden parties are being held in honour of Her Majesty.
But it has occurred to me that celebrations for Elizabeth’s Jubilee are not that different from our Memorial Day celebrations in the U.S. in the sense that the reason for the holiday seems to sometimes be lost in the revelry. Do we really pause on Memorial Day to remember our fallen heroes – those who have offered the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom? Is the dancing at the beer gardens in the village pubs truly a celebration of the Queen’s realm? I’m not so certain.
Memorial Day tends to be the official kick-off of summer in the United States. Swimming pools open. Burgers and corn-on-cob are grilled. School is out (or almost). Shorts, T-shirts and flip-flops are the order of the day. Of course we wave a flag or two but mostly it’s a day off work for most folks and a nice day to enjoy the outdoors.
I suppose that it doesn’t matter if EVERYONE celebrates the Holiday (or Bank Holiday, if you will) as it is intended. Lots of folks enjoy a day off at Christmas and it doesn’t diminish my celebration of my Saviour’s birth.
So grab a flag (or grab a beer) and hail the Queen or honour your war heroes. And remember at some point if you can’t give thanks for those being honoured on these special days, at least be thankful for the politicians who had the good sense to set aside some days for rest and celebration. You see – government’s not all bad.