May Day has a long historical significance as a festival; pagan celebration and marker of workers' rights are just two.
The Government is proposing to 'move' May Day - or rather REmove May Day - so that, ostensibly, the tourist season is extended.
There are a number of arguments to be had around this: others, far more articulate than I, will make a case about protecting the one rare day that acknowledges the struggle of workers to unionise and protect workers' rights against exploitation.
I'd like to take a slightly different approach and look at how the Public Holidays work in the UK - and especially England - at the moment.
Why has May Day come under attack again? Simplistically, May Day isn't popular amongst Tories, but it's more to do with the accident of how Easter has fallen this year that has highlighted the perceived problem.
Easter is 'late' this year: this, combined with TBRW* holiday, means that there are FOUR public holidays within 11 days (effectively FOUR within 7 working days). Given the long gap between New Year and Easter, one can understand that this isn't really a very even spread of Public Holidays. Equally, it is a LONG time between the August Public Holiday and Christmas.
But is it really fair to lay the blame at the door of May Day?
How come NO-ONE wants to bite the bullet of fixing Easter? It can wander around anywhere between the third week in March and the start of the final week in April.
In that context, how the hell would offering St George's Day (23rd April) in England possibly help alleviate that mad glutch of Public Holidays in the spring? In that respect, offering a date in October for a Public Holiday is far more sensible (though I feel a little iffy about Trafalgar Day).
To my mind, the issue is more one about Public Holidays per se than 'moving' one (or 'fixing' Easter). The UK has a bad rep for having so few Public Holidays - why not ADD an October date to the calendar?! (I mean, next year 2012 we get a Public Holiday for the Queenie's Diamond Jubilee --- not an extra one, but just shufting the Spring Bank Holiday aka poor old Whitsun).
I'm not especially thrilled with the reasons why certain days are deemed Public Holidays for sure: I'm not religious, I'm not a Royalist, and I'm pretty ambivalent about celebrating 'victory' over other countries in wars. That's probably why preserving May Day, Worker's Day, Labour Day, DOES mean a lot to me.
But we need Public Holidays: I'd like there to be a campaign to fix Easter for Holiday purposes, and by all means bang in national holidays (I'd be celebrating Shakespeare personally, rather than St George, but that's me), but let's instead think about the logic of what Public Holidays can do for worker energy and moral by ADDING in one for later in the year.
I'll be controversial and suggest Halloween :)
*aka The Bloody Royal Wedding