Thursday, 1 August 2013
Happy Yorkshire Day
Perhaps only those of us who live in or come from Yorkshire know that today, 1st August, is Yorkshire Day. I was born in Yorkshire and have lived in the county all of my life but, to be honest, I've not really paid much attention to the concept of Yorkshire Day. It's a fairly recent invention, described by some as being as "phoney as Father's Day", but it does seem to be gaining in popularity with each passing year.
So what are the origins of Yorkshire Day? It's certainly not an ancient festival! It was started by the Yorkshire Ridings Society in 1975 in the town of Beverley, East Yorkshire, in response to the then government's reorganisation of counties which, horror of horrors, did away with East Yorkshire altogether, rebranding it as "North Humberside". Yorkshire people are very proud of their county and those of us living in East Yorkshire (myself included, although I was very young at the time) immediately began to protest at this dumbing down of our heritage. We refused to use North Humberside in our postal addresses and some people even took to vandalising county road signs proclaiming "Welcome to Humberside". It took 20 years but eventually, with some further reorganisation in 1996, our beloved East Riding of Yorkshire was restored to us.
The date of 1st August was apparently chosen as Yorkshire Day for two reasons. First of all it was the date on which the Battle of Minden took place in 1759, a battle date celebrated by the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, and also this date commemorates the emancipation of slaves in 1834 for which one of East Yorkshire's famous residents, William Wilberforce, was a prominent campaigner.
On a personal note, I am very proud to be Yorkshire born and bred and see nothing wrong with having our own day, although apart from picking a white rose from the garden I haven't quite worked out the proper way to celebrate it. Perhaps a walk in either the Yorkshire Dales or the North York Moors National Parks would be more appropriate, giving me an opportunity to savour the beautiful landscapes right on my doorstep.
But then I only have to look around me and every day is Yorkshire Day!