bank holidays

Public holidays in Britain are called bank holidays. Traditionally they are on a Monday.

Today in Spain (12 October) it is Fiesta Nacional de España, a national holiday. Three days ago, it was Valencia Day which was a holiday in the Communidad Valenciana.

In the United Kingdom, we call these bank holidays. They are public holidays when schools, government offices, and businesses are closed.

Bank holidays began in 1871 when Parliament passed a law about them. Banks and other financial institutions could close their doors to the public but continue business inside. The days were used by banks to make sure their records were up-to-date.

Of course these days banks aren’t really closed even on bank holidays. Online banking, telephone banking, and apps on your smartphone all mean that we can usually carry out business even if the bank’s doors are closed.

In Spain public holidays are on specific dates. This means the holiday each year will change day. So, for example, in 2020 the Fiesta Nacional de España is on a Monday and so Monday is the holiday. Next year, the holiday will be on a Tuesday.

However, the UK tradition is that bank holidays are held on a Monday. If May Day (1 May) falls on a Thursday, for example, then the bank holiday will be the following Monday. This does not apply to the holidays for Easter or Christmas and New Year.

In the UK bank holidays are not compulsory holidays. Workers are not entitled to a day off or to be paid extra for working that day. These are covered instead by the contract between an employer and employee. The usual practice, however, is for workers to take time off on bank holidays. Full-time workers receive 28 days annual leave in the UK, and this total includes bank holidays.

The countries of the UK have a different number of bank holidays. England and Wales have eight per year, Scotland has nine, and Northern Ireland has ten.

It is a very common British complaint that the weather at bank holiday weekends is usually wet and windy. 


  • complaint – la queja
  • compulsory – obligatorio
  • employee – el/ la empleado/a
  • employer – el empleador/ora
  • to be entitled to – tener derecho a
  • following – siguiente
  • law – la ley


Many words in English and Spanish are the same or very similar.  They are called cognates (cognados).

  • annual – anual
  • to apply – aplicar
  • banking – la banca
  • common – común
  • contract – el contrato
  • specific – específico
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