Calls from over 11,000 people who petitioned the PM to proclaim March 1st a Bank Holiday in Wales have been, predictably, rejected. The response from the Government was:
"Whilst the Government is pleased that so many people are interested, as you can imagine it is not possible to please everyone as to who or what should be celebrated. Unlike Northern Ireland, where St Patrick's Day is a bank holiday, bank and public holidays in Great Britain do not, by tradition commemorate particular individuals, events, or institutions, other than those associated with Christmas and Easter. Moreover, many individuals and communities in Wales already celebrate St David's Day in a way they consider more suitable. The present pattern of bank holidays in the United Kingdom is well established and accepted, and the Government has no current plans to change the arrangements."Ahhh, I see. So it's perfectly OK that everyone in the UK - which is largely secular - has bank holidays to remember the day when Jesus was crucified on a cross (Good Friday), when he was resurrected (Easter) and the date on which he was born (if he existed at all, of course.)
But it's not OK to celebrate and remember something actually meaningful - our cultural hertitage and what it means to be a part of Wales (whether you're Welsh or not)? Perhaps it's just me but I can't see the logic in the Government's argument. Or perhaps that is their logic.
I had a debate with someone - a British nationalist - on this issue a few days ago. It went something like this (my opponents' comments are in italics):
At this point we decided to agree to disagree but I think the conversation highlighted an important point: the underlying tendancy for British nationalists to resist any idea of the separate nations of the UK celebrating their unique identities. They would rather we all melted into a UK-wide, Union Jack-waving culture, and forget what makes us different and unique. Thankfully, that's just not going to happen.
"I can't see the point in it. It's just an excuse to have a day off. Businesses are already being squeezed."
"But", I piped up, "you still think it's fine to have the other bank holidays off?"
"So you think it's OK to take days off to acknowledge Christian events, which may be completely mythical and are certainly distorted, even though you proclaim yourself to be non religious?"
"It's not ideal but I don't mind. We all need some days off. And nobody really acknowledges the religious aspect anyway."
"So what's wrong with the idea of a day off for everyone in Wales to celebrate all things Welsh on the day of our patron saint?"
"It's an OK idea but I just don't think it's necessary. People are free to celerbate it if they wish anyway. They don't need another day off."
"Yes, but they can't celebrate much if they're working until 5pm, can they?"
"No, but... I just don't think they need the day off. Like I said, businesses are already being squeezed."
"Well, you could swap one of the bank holidays for St. David's Day then?"
"... I suppose, but ... if you do that, everyone will be demanding days off for this event, for that event. It'll be never ending."
"Look, it surely can't be a bad idea to have just one day off a year to celebrate something meaningful and useful to the people of Wales? It's something everyone in Wales could join in with. It's not that you're against the idea of Bank Holidays because you're quite happy to celebrate days which are, to you as a non-religious person, completely meaningless. You don't complain about businesses being squeezed then, do you? It's just that you don't like the idea of having another day, or swaping a Bank Holiday, to celebrate St. David's Day because you're a British nationalist and, like the government, you don't like the idea of the seperate nations of the UK celebrating their unique cultural and historical identities."
"Yeah, but I still maintain that we don't need to take the day off just because it's St. David Day. There's no need for it."
Labels: British Nationalist, Dydd Gwyl Dewi Sant, St. David's Day, UK Government