What’s a “bank holiday”? Do Aussies say that too?

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Today (Monday), 29 May 2023 is a “bank holiday” in the United Kingdom, our third this month! 📆
Now this term “bank holiday” often confuses many people not from the UK or Ireland. Does this mean that it’s a holiday for banks only? 🧐

Absolutely not! “Bank holidays” in the UK and Ireland are what are otherwise known as “public holidays”. Schools 🏫, offices 🏢, etc., along with banks 🏦 are all closed.

But what’s the case with Australia 🇦🇺? Do Aussies called them “bank holidays” too?

Well, even though they are still legally defined as “bank holidays” in the Australian states of South Australia and Victoria 📜, Aussies refer to them as “public holidays” only. This term is one of the many that differ between UK English and Australian English.

But then there’s the state of New South Wales (Sydney is its capital) 🦘, where the first Monday of August is an actual “bank holiday” i.e. banks and other financial institutions are closed while for everyone else it’s a normal workday. So in this part of Australia, a distinction is made between a “public holiday” (days like Christmas, Australia Day, Labour Day etc.) and a “bank holiday”.

The bank holiday in NSW is a leftover from the original purpose of bank holidays in the British Empire: “The NSW Bank Holiday in August originated from the commercial practice in the United Kingdom of compensating counting house staff for extra work involved in the June 30 balances by granting them a holiday on the first Monday of August.” Why this one stayed in NSW is because the financial year ends in Australia on 30 June.

If you ever need someone to help you get it right for Australia, feel free to ask me!