08 June, 2008

Happy Birthday, dear Elizabeth



It's been an uneventful week here in Toytown. Work, work, work, a Michael Buble concert (now that was a lot of fun) and more work. It's nearly 7pm on Sunday night and I've only been dressed for 5 hours. Still, that's what Sundays are for.

Tomorrow is a public holiday here in NSW, in fact I think it's all states with the exception of WA. This one is in honour of the Queens Birthday. Yes, here in the country that's just gagging to cut its ties with Mother England and become a republic, tomorrow we get the day off work to sing Happy Birthday to Her Maj. It's not her real birthday, we all know that's in April (you all knew that, right?) but in fact commemorates the birth of her father, George V. The holiday dates back to 1788 when George III was on the throne. The date changed with each monarch until it was decided to stop making everyone dizzy. British readers might be surprised to find that non Brits have a day off to raise a glass of something alcoholic and toast the Queen but it's quite common in Commonwealth countries.

The UK doesn't have a holiday to mark the birthday of its own monarch, nor does it have a 'national' public holiday. Scotland and Northern Ireland take the day off in honour of St Andrew and St Patrick but the English and Welsh have nothing in comparison. There's been much debate on the subject of late, most of the stuff I've read seems to indicate a certain level of animosity towards the idea. The Scottish National Party took great umbrage to a recent idea mooted by UK government minister Stephen Byrne for a British day in August. The nature of this crime was his failure to realise that the Scottish August holiday is on a different day to the English and Welsh. Scotland and Wales have their own separate parliaments, or assemblies. Scotlands education system is separate from England and Wales. Welsh 'Britons' get free NHS prescriptions and the Scots are keen to follow suit. Hapless English residents still pay. With such disparity between the countries within the UK it looks unlikely that the British population will be celebrating any time soon.

At a time where the United Kingdom seems to be anything but, would a UK wide holiday be something to bring us together? Or is it better that we reinstate the borders and cut all ties? I don't know. What I do know is that I get a sleep in tomorrow. Happy Birthday, dear Elizabeth.

4 comments:

Foodycat said...

Scotland gets January 2nd as a bank holiday too. I think the idea is everyone will have a 2 day hangover after hogmanay. I don't think there needs to be a British holiday, but having St George's Day as a bank holiday in England would be nice. As long as the bad nationalist behaviour that can be associated with it doesn't carry across.

Enjoy your sleeping in!

SSS said...

That's just the trouble, though. Why on earth should we be too scared that an idiotic minority will take the day as their own?

St Georges Day is too close to the other bank holidays. I think something in October would be good.

Foodycat said...

True - after the August bank holiday there is such a dearth. Late September/mid-October would break it up nicely before Christmas.

mscrankypants said...

I didn't know the UK didn't celebrate its monarch's birthday with a day off -- I'll try to enjoy mine to compensate twice as much.