Saving May Day
Though for very different reasons.
It is reported that there is some plot afoot to abolish the May Day bank holiday in favour of a ‘UK Day’ (or some such) in October. There is to be a White Paper on the proposal by the end of this month, followed by a public consultation on this ‘Tourism Strategy’(?).
It is nice to be consulted (if not listened to), so His Grace will get his tuppence ha'penny worth in first, and then he’ll shut up.
Firstly, he would like to dispense with Brendan Barber’s superficial appeal to the Socialist origins of this celebration; and ‘origins’ is something of an overstatement, considering they are barely a century old. The ‘International Workers' Day’ emanates from 1886 when workers and police in Chicago exchanged bombs and bullets during a general strike for an eight-hour working day. Sad and distressing as this may be, it is hardly worthy of a global annual celebration. After all, we don’t get a ‘Tory Day’, or an ‘International Managers’ Day’ or ‘Wealth Creators’ Day’. The idea of a special day for union demonstrations is really nothing to do with the nation’s culture, and it has been somewhat hijacked over recent years by anti-capitalist demonstrators intent on smashing the windows of McDonald’s and urinating on Churchill’s statue.
But the Department for Culture, Media and Sport is intent on establishing a ‘UK Day’ and they are determined to place it in October ‘to help the tourism industry’.
Perhaps Jeremy Hunt would like to explain how an October bank holiday is likely to boost tourism. Does he anticipate hordes of French crossing the Channel to commemorate ‘Trafalgar Day’? Who would journey here specially to participate in such an event?
Tourism Minister John Penrose takes a swipe at the ‘Tory backwoodsmen’ who ‘have a bee in their bonnet about the May Day bank holiday because of its association with international labour day’. He then proceeds to inform us that it is ‘a traditional British celebration dating back to the 4th Century’.
Of course, he doesn’t say a word about the Christian significance of the day: he doesn’t mention Roodmas, which was traditionally celebrated in England at midnight on 1st May as one of the principal agricultural festivals, along with Plough Sunday and Harvest Festival. He doesn’t mention the Feast Day of St Philip and St James, who became the patron saints of workers. For Mr Penrose, May Day segues from Pagan England to Labour Day like the Constitution for Europe shifts seamlessly from Greece and Rome to the Enlightenment: Christianity is airbrushed out as though it were an embarrassing aberration.
The true origins of May Day are thoroughly Pagan: the notions of May Queens, Maypoles and Morris Dancers with their ribbons and bells are celebrations of Anglo Saxon fertility which are deeply embedded in the English psyche as much as Shakespeare and the Monarchy. Villages hold their fêtes and rural communities revel into the morning hours in celebration of this heritage. This is England, to which millions of tourists flock every year. And you can’t eradicate or supplant this to October by something as ephemeral as an Act of Parliament.
It is not possible to manufacture or manipulate a national day of celebration, at least without some sort of cultural Marxist revolutionary imposition. Such celebrations develop incrementally and embed themselves over long centuries. If the Coalition understood culture, they would grant England her St George’s Day, and fuse it with a national commemoration of the greatest literary soul who ever walked the earth. The British will celebrate their Shakespeare long before they will be cajoled into some sort of British 4th July.
Especially if it is situated during the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness (and downpours) of October.
But the irony which appears to have escaped Jeremy Hunt and his Department of Culture is that the perfect day to establish ‘UK Day’ would actually be 1st May.
For it was on 1st May 1707 that the Act of Union came into effect, forever joining England and Scotland to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain.
So let us move forward like Conservatives, in accord with the grand chorus of national harmony, consonant with the beautiful order of our mores and traditions. And leave the cultural vandalism and social manipulation to the socialists and ignorant revolutionaries.