How Holidays Work – UK vs India and the meaning of Bank Holiday

It’s holiday time in the UK! The warm and beautiful summer is finally at its peak after a long wait for the winter to end. With the temperatures reaching up to 45 degrees, summer isn’t exactly the time one would look forward to holidaying in India. Although many people head to the hills on account of children’s summer holidays.

But the seasons aren’t the only parameter that makes holidays in the UK different from those in India. The differences extend to the holiday policies as well.

Weekly Holidays

In India offices usually open Monday through Saturday, with Sunday being the only holiday. With the multi-national companies mushrooming in the subcontinent, the culture of a five-day work week has made way (Thank Goodness!). Employees working with most other local businesses work 6 days or sometimes even 7 days a week.

In UK (and most other developed nations), most people work five days a week. For businesses that are open through the week, the employees’ work-days get adjusted accordingly.

The Holiday Schedule

India is a multi-cultural nation, and to respect the sentiments of the various religions, the government announces mandatory holidays, which can vary according to regions. Corporates usually restrict the long list of religious holidays to just 12 public holidays in a year. People wishing to avail more (mostly depending on their religious preferences), can always apply for leaves to avail their paid-leaves. Most religious holidays are for a day. Other major festivals lasting up to a week are dependent on the various religious preferences.

In the UK, Christmas and Easter are considered as the holiday season which usually gets extended beyond just a couple of days. Apart from these, people prefer to take holidays during the summer to enjoy the warm weather. Other public holidays, also called Bank Holidays are fixed through the year so that people can plan their vacations in advance.

The Meaning of Bank Holiday

As the name suggests, Bank Holidays are the ones when the banks are closed; but in addition, the Bank employees, the holidays are announced as public holidays for everyone in UK. While some of the Bank Holidays are just the regular New Year, Good Friday and Christmas (and St. Patrick’s Day for Ireland), the others aren’t associated with any religious significance. The other Bank Holidays are scheduled so that the public holidays are well-distributed through the year.

  • Easter Monday – the Monday following the Easter Sunday 🙂
  • May Bank Holiday – First Monday in May
  • Spring Bank Holiday – Last Monday in May
  • Summer Bank Holiday – Last Monday in August
  • Boxing Day – the day after Christmas

Notice, that these holidays are scheduled on Fridays or Mondays, making the ‘Bank Holidays’ long weekends for everyone to enjoy.

 Aditi Chawla in Sefyon Park, Liverpool

When I learned about this concept of Bank Holidays, I thought this was a very smart and at the same time, a very thoughtful move by the government.

The Bank Holidays are a great opportunity for people to take some time off and for businesses to announce ‘Sale’ periods.

personal time off

The public holidays make sure that people spend quality time with their family and friends to relax and rewind. The Bank Holidays exclude the ‘holiday-stress’ that may accompany the festivities otherwise – of gifting and preparing hearty meals (and treats) at home.

Booming Business

Since the Bank Holidays are announced as official time-off for people in the UK, people tend to spend their time on travel, recreation, and entertainment while they are in the holiday mood.

This means happier residents, increased tourism within the country and booming local businesses. Now that’s a win-win for everyone!

The Bank Holiday weekends tend to be busy. At times special events are also organised by local authorities to attract the visitors. And hence, it’s only wise to make travel and stay bookings well in advance. Also, make sure that you’ve checked off all the essential tips to ensure a good vacation in the UK.

I so admire this concept of Bank Holidays in the UK, I wish this could be replicated in every country.

The last Monday of May is just here, and we’re all set for our Bank Holiday weekend. Will share more of my travel tales soon. 🙂


  1. Frank Kennedy
    May 29, 2018 / 4:09 PM

    Hi – people might want to check this "Employees in India and Colombia benefit from the greatest number of public holidays in the world whilst Mexicans have access to the least" (and the UK has the second lowest!) We’re always muttering about how other European countries have more holidays than we do – often seeing it as a Catholic (family-prioritising) v. Protestant (strong work ethic) thing.

    • Aditi Chawla
      May 29, 2018 / 5:33 PM

      Thank you for sharing these insights Frank. India does get a lot of holidays and apart from New Year, I can’t think of another holiday that does not have a religious significance! Let’s hope UK gets more official holidays. Until then, let’s make the most of our Bank Holidays 🙂

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