This is an important message for all of our members and blog followers. You may not be aware that the government has announced that they intend to move the next early May bank holiday from Monday 4th May to Friday 8th May in order to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE day. Whilst we should of course commemorate the victory of democracy over fascism this is an event worthy of a one off additional holiday to honour those involved rather than just moving the traditional bank holiday Monday.
Removing the Monday holiday will affect many traditional events some of which have been carried on since time immemorial across this country. Such events rely upon the availability of participants and audiences, many of whom will be unavailable if the Monday is a working day. For many individuals, businesses and groups planning for the May bank holiday has been underway for quite some time. Some involve engaging with groups from other countries, who will have their own holiday on 4th May as it happens to be international workers’ day.
May Day was celebrated by working people across Britain and elsewhere long before modern political parties; in fact it is the ancient feast of Beltane. Dancing in the May and celebrating spring predate the Roman Empire.
Across Britain there is a rich collection of events related to the beginning of May; Morris dancing of course on May morning and also Jack in the Green processions, hobby horse processions and others. There is also a standing programme of folk events and festivals around that time. These events provide important income for cafes, pubs, shops, hotels, camping sites at the very beginning of their season after a long lay off for some. They deserve to be allowed to continue without disruption.
John Major’s Conservative Government tried to remove the early May Bank Holiday in 1993. A group made up of representatives of all the active Jacks protested at Parliament. The Rochester Jack danced in Downing Street and the Hastings Bogies (Jack’s mischevious attendants) were allowed access to Parliament in full Bogie costume. It worked and the government of the day backed down.
Please help us send a message to the current government by signing the petition calling for the preservation of the 4th May bank holiday and the adoption of 8th May as a separate one off holiday to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE day. You can access the petition HERE or by clicking on the petitions banner below.
Morris teams, individuals and others involved in May traditions will be gathering on College Green Westminster at 11am on 23rd July to protest, dance, meet with MP’s and request that the early May bank holiday is preserved.
MP’s are already taking notice, Helen Whately MP, deputy leader of the Conservative Party, has agreed to meet Gordon Newton, founder of the Rochester Sweeps Festival and reviver of The Bluebell Hill Jack in the Green in the lobby of Parliament on 23rd July. Keith Leech MBE reviver of The Hastings Traditional Jack in the Green will be there and has confirmed that Amber Rudd will come outside the House to meet the group at noon.
You can also write to your MP. You can use THIS LINK to find out your MPs details.
Your support would be very much appreciated, May the 4th be with you!