As anyone living in Queensland over the past few years has noticed, the dates and reasons for public holidays seem to alter each year. During some recent research I discovered some interesting public holidays that have been celebrated over Queensland’s 156 year history. Here are my top five forgotten holidays – which would you like to reinstate?
Saints days are no longer public holidays (or Bank Holidays, following the British name). In 1902 Queenslanders had public holidays for St Patrick on 17 March, St George on 23 April and St Andrew on 30 November – the patron saints of Ireland, England and Scotland (and Greece, Romania, Russia, Poland & Ukraine). I realise that these are three separate occasions but I am grouping them together because of the common theme. These particular Saint’s days are still enthusiastically celebrated around the world, but they no longer warrant a public holiday here in Queensland. And what about poor St David, Patron saint of Wales, on 1 March? Personally, St Jerome’s Day on 30 September gets my vote for a day off, as he is the patron saint of librarians.
Lammas Day on 1 August. Again, a day off in 1902 forgotten in 2015. With its origins in pagan festivals, Lammas Day was a day to celebrate the first wheat harvest in the Northern Hemisphere. Relevant to Queensland? Or just an excuse to have a day off in August? I prefer Brisbane’s Show Day on the 2nd Wednesday in August.
Prince of Wales’ Birthday. I doubt if this is celebrated by any but the most devout monarchist today, but this event warranted a day off in the early part of the 20th Century. As the King’s Birthday was really on 9 December, the Prince of Wales’ Birthday, celebrated in June, was the beginning of the current tradition of the Queen’s Birthday holiday in June. Not the monarch’s actual birthday? Date moves from one year to the next? Why worry when we can take a long weekend.
Pugh’s Almanac in 1926 lists September 13 as a Bank Holiday. No reason was given. Maybe it was to compensate those overworked folk who had to work on Lammas Day that year!
Separation Day on 10 December. In 1859, on this day, the first Governor of Queensland, Sir George Bowen, and his wife, Lady Diamantina, arrived in Brisbane. The proclamation establishing Queensland as a Colony separate from New South Wales was read. Where would State of Origin Rugby League matches be without this important event?
Information about Bank Holidays and other interesting Queensland facts can be found in Pugh’s Almanacs, digitised through Text Queensland at http://www.textqueensland.com.au/
The keen observer of public holidays can use SLQ’s One Search catalogue to find a book called Bank and public holidays throughout the world, 1920. This book has been digitised and can be read online.
Katy Roberts, Library Technician, Visitor Services.