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Bank Holiday vs. Public Holiday: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Published on December 2, 2023
A bank holiday is a day when banks are officially closed, while a public holiday is a day off for the general public, often for a national celebration or observance.

Key Differences

Bank holidays were originally established to close banks for a day, allowing bank employees a day off. In contrast, public holidays are set by the government and typically apply to most sectors, giving the general public a day off for national celebrations or observances.
The term bank holiday is more common in certain countries, like the UK, where it denotes specific days when banks are closed. Public holidays, on the other hand, are universally recognized in many countries and often include government and private sector closures.
While all bank holidays are public holidays in some countries, not all public holidays are bank holidays. For example, a public holiday might be observed by closing schools and government offices, but banks might remain open.
In some regions, bank holidays are statutory and have fixed dates, such as Christmas Day. Public holidays can also be statutory, but they might include a broader range of days, like national days of significance or religious holidays.
The observance of bank holidays can sometimes be limited to the financial sector, whereas public holidays generally involve widespread closures across various sectors, including education, government, and businesses.

Comparison Chart

Primary Closure

All sectors (government, schools, businesses)


Specifically for banking sector
National or cultural significance

Common In

UK, Ireland

Sector Specificity

Mainly financial sector
Applies to general public


Boxing Day in the UK
Independence Day in the USA

Bank Holiday and Public Holiday Definitions

Bank Holiday

A statutory public holiday when banks and financial institutions are closed.
On the bank holiday, he couldn't conduct any bank transactions as all the banks were closed.

Public Holiday

A government-declared holiday, often commemorating historical events or cultural festivals.
The public holiday marked the anniversary of the country's liberation.

Bank Holiday

A non-working day for the banking sector, sometimes coinciding with national celebrations.
The bank holiday coincided with the national festival, so the entire town was in celebration.

Public Holiday

A day when non-essential government and private sector offices are closed.
He planned a family outing on the public holiday since everyone was off work.

Bank Holiday

A day set aside for bank employees to rest, often aligning with public holidays.
The upcoming bank holiday was eagerly anticipated by bank staff for a long weekend.

Public Holiday

A non-working day observed across various sectors for a common celebration or observance.
On the public holiday, the parade drew crowds from all over the city.

Bank Holiday

A day when banks are closed, and no banking transactions occur.
The banks were closed on the bank holiday, so she couldn't deposit her check.

Public Holiday

A day off for the general public, usually due to a national or cultural celebration.
Schools and offices were closed for the public holiday celebrating the country's independence.

Bank Holiday

A legal holiday in some countries, primarily for bank employees.
The bank holiday gave the bank employees a much-needed break.

Public Holiday

A legally recognized national or regional holiday where most employees are given a day off.
The streets were bustling with activities during the national public holiday.


Do bank holidays affect financial transactions?

Yes, as banks are closed on bank holidays, certain financial transactions may be delayed.

Can businesses stay open on a bank holiday?

Yes, businesses, other than banks, can choose to stay open on a bank holiday.

Is a public holiday the same in every country?

No, public holidays differ between countries and can be based on cultural, historical, or religious events.

Are all bank holidays also public holidays?

In some countries, all bank holidays are considered public holidays, but this can vary by country.

Can a bank holiday be moved to a different date?

Yes, in some cases, bank holidays can be moved to create long weekends or align with other events.

Are public holidays paid holidays?

In many countries, public holidays are paid days off, but policies can vary depending on the region and employer.

Are bank holidays the same date each year?

Some bank holidays have fixed dates, while others may vary, like Easter Monday.

Can a country have a public holiday not observed nationwide?

Yes, some public holidays are specific to certain regions or states within a country.

How are bank holidays determined?

Bank holidays are usually determined by government legislation or by the banking sector's regulations.

Do all countries have public holidays?

Most countries have public holidays, although the number and type of holidays vary.

Can an individual region declare its own bank holiday?

In some countries, individual regions have the authority to declare their own bank holidays.

Are public holidays always celebrated with festivities?

The nature of celebration on public holidays varies; some are festive, while others are more solemn.

Do schools close on public holidays?

Generally, schools are closed on public holidays, but this can depend on the specific holiday and country.

Do bank holidays vary between regions within the same country?

Yes, bank holidays can vary regionally, especially in countries with devolved governments or regional variations.

Can public holidays be religious in nature?

Yes, many public holidays are based on religious festivals or events.

Is compensation required for working on a public holiday?

Compensation policies for working on a public holiday vary by country and employer.

How do bank holidays affect the stock market?

Stock markets are usually closed on bank holidays, which can affect trading globally.

Is every public holiday a day off for everyone?

While public holidays typically mean a day off for most people, some workers in essential services may still work.

Are bank holidays observed internationally?

Bank holidays are specific to each country and are not typically observed internationally.

Are public holidays the same as national holidays?

Public holidays often include national holidays, but they can also encompass regional or cultural holidays.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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