National Holidays – U.K. vs. U.S.

national holidays uk vs us

Some of the eagle-eyed followers of our LCinsights blog might have spotted me all “kilted up” and bearing Scottish gifts late last year to “celebrate” St. Andrew’s Day. I say “celebrate” because the special day is seldom commemorated back home in Scotland, other than by a die-hard few.

In fact, many national holidays in the UK are slowly but surely losing their importance. This is likely because they’re either linked to religion (in the case of Easter break or any of the patron saint holidays) or they represent holidays which don’t tend to resonate with a modern workforce, such as days off at the start of harvest season. As they’ve declined in importance, many employers allow their employees the chance to take their national holidays at any point during the year. While that’s great for your annual PTO allowance, it means that there’s rarely a point in the year when everyone takes a break.

Since moving to the United States last year, I’ve enjoyed discovering each of the country’s national holidays, how they’re celebrated and what they represent. Although some, such as Columbus Day and Thanksgiving, can prove contentious due to their origins, they still offer the opportunity to reflect on important points in American history. In addition, as the vast majority of employers offer them off as standard, many Americans (and current US residents) take advantage of the opportunity to travel, indulge in an annual tradition or simply stay home to recharge their batteries.

On the professional front, national holidays and other celebrations offer great opportunities to raise a client’s profile. With the US government shutdown showing no signs of abating, Delta Air Lines stepped in to ensure that the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park in Atlanta was able to welcome visitors over the long MLK weekend. With that said, brands should still tread carefully when “event hijacking.” Some companies have tried unsuccessfully to capitalize on LGBT pride celebrations, without actually supporting LGBT charities and causes on a regular basis.

What’s your favorite national holiday? Is there a campaign you’ve been particularly impressed by? Be sure to leave your comment below.

Blog written by Craig MacLellan.

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3 Comments

  1. Brianne Miller Reply

    Of course I love St. Patrick’s Day! Corned beef/cabbage/potatoes/soda bread/beer. Favorite meal ever! It’s all about the food…

  2. David Landis Reply

    Craig, it’s so great to get your U.K. perspective on what might seem to be some very unusual holidays here in the States. Of all of those holidays, Martin Luther King Day is my favorite, as he is still my hero.
    Cheers, David

  3. Ashley Boarman Reply

    Glad to have you in the U.S., Craig. My favorite American holiday is the 4th of July. What could be better than fireworks and hot dogs!