Does it matter if the banks are on holiday?

This post is only tangentially – oh, go on then, not at all – related to money laundering, but I figure you will forgive me as it’s the daftest day of the year.  Yesterday (Easter Sunday) I went out to dinner to a local restaurant – one of a chain of Italian eateries.  I had downloaded from their website a voucher for money off our meal, and in the T&Cs it said “Not valid on Bank Holidays”.  Being of a literal, compliant turn of mind, I checked at source (the UK government website) and confirmed that Easter Sunday is not a bank holiday – only Good Friday and Easter Monday are.  But (you can see where this is going) the restaurant manager refused to agree with me and the government on this, and so I went home for beans on toast.

However, it did get me thinking about the whole concept of the “bank holiday”.  I had vaguely thought that a bank holiday was a day on which the banking systems (originally human and now electronic) were shut down, and that therefore it was a day excluded from all calculations for cheque clearance, conveyancing, probate, etc.  But the only banking link, as far as some cursory research reveals, is that in 1871 the banker Sir John Lubbock submitted to parliament a piece of legislation (which was passed as the Bank Holidays Act 1871) designating four extra days off work which were then termed Bank Holidays.  (Christmas Day, Good Friday and all Sundays were already considered days of rest and worship and so did not need to be specified.)  However, Sir John’s motivation was not to improve the lot of the working man, but to ensure that he himself could attend certain cricket matches.  So it seems that it’s nothing whatsoever to do with whether the banks are open or not; had Sir John been a surgeon we might have end up with Hospital Holidays instead.

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4 Responses to Does it matter if the banks are on holiday?

  1. Claire says:

    I would have gone home too. How client-unfriendly of that restaurant manager to refuse your voucher.
    The bank holiday history gave me a good laugh. He could also have named them Cricket holiday! 😉 I hope you enjoyed the Easter weekend.

  2. Cricket holiday – that’s even better, Claire, and so very English!
    Best wishes from Susan

  3. Graham Thomas says:

    Hi Susan

    Like you, I’m careful to read the small print on these things and this is a perfect example of a lack of sensible thinking by the restaurant. It’s all well and good coming up with an offer to tempt new customers through your door but it does seem all too common that, when you actually try to take it up, there’s some obscure (and previously unstated) reason as to why the offer isn’t what it originally seemed.

    Oh well, at least this episode meant that we’ve learnt a bit more about the true origins of the bank holiday. As is often the case, the reality is different from our perceived understanding of things.

    I’m assuming that you still enjoyed your Easter break …. as it is customary to receive a lovely chocolate offering (or two !!).

    Best Wishes


  4. Hi Graham
    Yes -we live in the age of small print, which is a shame as I am reaching the age when I could do with somewhat larger print!
    I had a good Easter weekend, thank you, but not much of a break as I have a new workshop for MLROs coming up in Guernsey, and LOTS of material to prepare – they’re a demanding audience, my lovely experienced MLROs.
    But I did manage to dash into Hotel Chocolat yesterday and hoover up a couple of half-price eggs (twice the choc, half the money).
    Best wishes from Susan

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