Corbyn: ‘Make Saints’ Days public holidays’

National pride: The patron saints to protect and guide the four nations of the United Kingdom.

The Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn thinks Britain should get four new bank holidays — one for each UK patron saint. Will this make people prouder to be British?

What’s happening

The 4th of July in the USA is greeted with a feast of fireworks, in Moscow soldiers parade on Russia day and around the world St Patrick’s Day is a celebration of Irishness. We can all recognize our country’s qualities. Corbyn thinks British workers deserve more holidays to celebrate their nations.

Find out more

If he becomes the next British prime minister, he will bring in four new public holidays. Each marks a patron saint for the countries which make up the UK: St George, St David, St Patrick and St Andrew — see the image above. His aim is to “unite our four nations”.

But two weeks ago it was the feast day of St George and many people had no idea what that meant. It was greeted with a shrug of the shoulders. In a 2010 survey, the English had the lowest levels of patriotism of all the countries in Europe. Some British people worry about the association patriotism has with racism or nationalism.

Corbyn wants to bring everyone together to celebrate key parts of their history and thinks this will make the UK happier and stronger. Will people buy it?

Some say…

Definitely, say some. National holidays bring people together. If we mark these days, it would help people to see celebrating where you are from does not make you more close-minded. We could use a day to celebrate the achievements and traditions of each other’s countries; this could help build understanding and respect between different groups.

Others think…

“No nationalism please, we’re British,” say those who think there should not be a competition to say which nation is best. You can have affection for your country without waving flags everywhere. Historically, one of the great things about the British is that they are accepting of different cultures, and open to new ideas and ways of thinking.

You Decide

  1. Will four new national holidays bring British people together?

Activities

  1. Choose a patron saint. Write a list of things you would do for a party to celebrate your chosen saint.

Some People Say...

“A nation is happier when it can have pride in its identity.”

What do you think?

Word Watch

Public holidays
Workers have the right to a day off (with pay). Businesses close so everyone is free to spend time with their family and friends.
Patriotism
Showing a loyalty to, and a love of, your country.
Nationalism
Nationalists believe their country is the best; they are fiercely proud of their own culture. This means they are sometimes unwilling to welcome people from different countries.
Identity
The characteristics, beliefs, and values which make us who or what we are: eg, Welsh culture or religious beliefs.

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