Expat Guide

Calendar and Holidays

In the UK, and most of the world, dates are formatted as day-month-year, 23 January 2010. It can be tricky remembering to change this.


The following is a table of holidays and notable dates for both the UK and the US. (When you’re not in the US, sometimes it’s handy to be able to quickly access American dates, some are easy to forget.) The British Holidays and Notable Dates are linked to information pages about that specific day.

It is good to remember that as Mother’s Day is a month earlier in the UK, to buy your needed cards at that time to send to the US as they won’t be available at the time of the US Mother’s Day. ( The table of dates below is a sample and some dates change from year to year. The site calendar is kept up to date.)

It can be helpful to enable holidays in Outlook Calendar for both countries.

UK HolidaysUS Holidays
Jan 1New Years Day (UK Bank Holiday)Jan 1New Years Day (US Federal Holiday)
Jan 2Holiday (Scotland Bank Holiday) 2008/2009/2010-
Jan 25Robert Burn's Nights (Scotland)Inauguration Day (Jan 20 of each 4th year)
Jan 27Holocaust Memorial Day3rd Monday of Jan, (2009 Jan 19, 2010 Jan 18)Martin Luther King Day
-Feb 1National Freedom Day
47 days before Easter2008 Feb 5; 2009 Feb 24; 2010 Feb 16Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day)Feb 2Groundhog Day
2008 Feb 6 ;2009 Feb 25 ; 2010 Feb 17Ash Wednesday2008 Feb 6 ;2009 Feb 25 ; 2010 Feb 17Ash Wednesday
Feb 14St. Valentine's DayFeb 14St. Valentine's Day
March 1St David's Day (Patron Saint of Wales)3rd Monday of Feb, 2008 Feb 18; 2009 Feb 16; 2010 Feb 15President's Day (US Federal Holiday)
4th Sunday of Lent (2 weeks before Palm Sunday), 2008 Mar 2; 2009 Mar 22Mothering Sunday/Mother's Day-
March 17St Patrick's Day (N. Ire. Bank Holiday)March 17St Patrick's Day
March 20Spring BeginsMarch 20Spring Begins
2009 Apr 5, 2008 Mar 16, 2010 Mar 28Palm Sunday2009 Apr 5, 2008 Mar 16, 2010 Mar 28Palm Sunday
2008 Mar 20, 2009 Apr 9 ;2010 Apr 1Maundy Thursday (Last Supper)-
2008 Mar 21, 2009 Apr 10, 2010 Apr 2Good Friday (UK Bank Holiday)2008 Mar 21, 2009 Apr 10, 2010 Apr 2Good Friday (US Federal Holiday)
2008 Mar 23, 2009 Apr 12 ,2010 Apr 4Easter2008 Mar 23, 2009 Apr 12 ,2010 Apr 4Easter
2008 Mar 24, 2009 Apr 13 ,2010 Apr 5Easter Monday (UK Bank Holiday)
4th Sunday of March, March 30, 2008Change to British Summer Time-
-1st Sunday of April, April 6, 2008; April 5, 2009Change to Daylight Savings Time
April 1stApril Fools DayApril 1stApril Fools Day
April 21Queen Elizabeth's Birthday
April 23St. George's Day (Patron Saint of England)
1st Sunday of MayMay Day (UK and ROI)2nd Sunday of MayMother's Day
2008 May 5, 2009 May 4May Day Holiday (UK Bank Holiday)3rd Saturday of MayArmed Forces Day
4th Monday of May, 2008 May 26, 2009 May 25, 2010 May 31Spring Holiday (UK Bank Holiday)4th Monday of May, 2008 May 26, 2009 May 25, 2010 May 31Memorial Day (US Federal Holiday)
1st Monday of JuneBank Holiday (ROI Bank Holiday)-
June 14, 2008Trooping the ColourJune 14Flag Day
3rd Sunday of June, 2008 Jun 15, 2009 Jun 21, 2010 Jun 20Father's Day3rd Sunday of June, 2008 Jun 15, 2009 Jun 21, 2010 Jun 20Father's Day
June 21Summer BeginsJune 21Summer Begins
June 12, 2008Orangemen's Day Holiday (N. Ire. Bank Holiday)July 4Independence Day (US Federal Holiday)
July 14Emmeline Pankhurst Day-
July 15St. Swithun's (aka St. Swithin's) Day-
last Monday of Aug, 2008 Aug 25, 2009 Aug 31, 2010 Aug 30Late Summer Bank Holiday (UK Bank Holiday)1st Monday of Sept, 8 Sep 1, 2009 Sep 7, 2010 Sep 6Labor Day (US Federal Holiday)
4th Sunday of SeptemberGrandparents Day-
September 23Autumn BeginsSeptember 23Autumn Begins
Sunday of the Harvest Moon, Full Moon closest to Sept 23Harvest Festival2nd Monday of Oct, 2008 Oct 13, 2009 Oct 12, 2010 Oct 11Columbus Day (US Federal Holiday)
Last Sunday of OctoberEnd British Summer TimeLast Sunday of OctoberEnd Daylight Savings Time
Last Monday of OctoberBank Holiday (ROI Bank Holiday)-
October 31HalloweenOctober 31Halloween
November 1All Saints Day-
November 5Guy Fawkes Night (Bonfire Night)1st Tuesday on or after November 2ndElection Day
2nd Sunday of NovemberRememberance SundayNov 11Veteran's Day (US Federal Holiday)
November 30St. Andrews Day (Patron Saint of Scotland)-
-4th Thursday of NovemberThanksgiving (US Federal Holiday)
Dec 21Winter BeginsDec 21Winter Begins
Dec 25Christmas (UK Bank Holiday)Dec 25Christmas (US Federal Holiday)
Dec 26Boxing Day (UK Bank Holiday)St. Stephen's Day (ROI)-
Dec 31Hogmanay (Scotland) -


Holiday Traditions


On your birthday in the UK, you open cards and gifts when you wake up in the morning. If you’re employed, you should bring cakes to share with your co-workers. (Despite people's comments to the contrary, it is still the norm in many offices in this writer's experience in 2010.)


Very much the same, only at your Christmas dinner table, there is a Christmas cracker at each place setting, which you crack open at the start or end of the meal, for your incredibly bad joke and useless prize.  Father Christmas brings presents, and calls Lapland his home, instead of our Santa at the North Pole. Children exchange cards at school, beginning in early December, and charities often bring Father Christmas down your street handing out lollies, collecting spare change for charity. Children also are carolling for charity or their own pockets at your doors. Turkeys are traditional dinner fare, with stuffing and all the trimmings, but pumpkin pies are not common, if you can even find tinned pumpkin.


No Easter bunnies bringing easter baskets, there just seems to be more sweets in the house this day, and the occasional Easter Egg Hunt.

Shop Closures

Be aware that many shops are closed/shut for Sundays and many Bank holidays, so make sure you have enough supplies to get you through them, especially if you’re not driving out to the superstores which have better hours these days.

Bonfire Night and Fireworks

Remember remember the fifth of November. This is Bonfire Night, or Guy Fawkes Night, similar in celebratory nature to our Independence Day though less patriotic in style. In the Guy Fawkes plotted to blow up the Houses of Parlaiment but was caught before he succeeded, aka the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. Don't be surprised if you see a Guy (dummy) being tossed into a bonfire.

There are fireworks at times other than bonfire night throughout the year as well, town fairs, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve! Fireworks are legal, but they are restricting times that they can be sold.


We've not heard of any children trading Valentine's cards in schools in the UK.


Rob comments, "Just to add that on your birthday you may also be expected to buy all the locals in the public bar a drink, and that you tend to pull the crackers before you eat at the christmas table!!"


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