Yorkshire, located in the north of England, is the largest county in the UK, with more than five million inhabitants. This makes it larger than Wales and Scotland, and similar in size to Ireland. As these places have their own special days...
- Wales - St David's Day (1 March)
- Scotland - St Andrew's Day (30 November)
- Ireland - St Patrick's Day (17 March)
...it seems only fair that Yorkshire should have one too.
Why 1 August?
The choice of 1 August for Yorkshire day is based on events that occurred in the Seven Years War, which was fought in Europe, India and North America between 1756 and 1763. On 1 August, 1759, a combined force of 41,000 British, Hanoverian and Prussian troops defeated a 51,000-strong French army at the battle of Minden in what is now Germany. After the battle, the British soldiers picked white roses1 and wore them as a tribute to their fallen comrades. Since that day, a number of Yorkshire-based regiments have worn white roses on 1 August to commemorate the events of 1759 and all those from Yorkshire who have fallen in battle since.
Does Yorkshire Really Need Its Own Day?
In 1974, Yorkshire underwent a number of administrative changes, which meant that its boundaries were redrawn and the county split into three:
- North Yorkshire - containing the county town of York
- West Yorkshire - containing Leeds, Bradford and the industrial heart of Yorkshire
- South Yorkshire - containing Sheffield and its surrounding towns
Towns and villages that used to be in Yorkshire found themselves in strange, new counties such as Cleveland or Humberside2. Showing the fierce, indomitable spirit3 that characterises the Yorkshire race, several groups were set up to campaign for a return to Yorkshire status.
In 1975, the Yorkshire Ridings Society held a meeting in the village of Market Weighton and decided on the creation of Yorkshire Day, to remind those who had become involuntarily separated from Yorkshire, as well as other exiles, of their cultural heritage.
So What Does One Do on Yorkshire Day?
Since 1975, the idea of Yorkshire Day has been taken up all over the county, with many towns and villages organising some sort of event to commemorate the day. These are usually designed to raise money for local charities and often involve businesses in the area. In some places, the Yorkshire 'Declaration of Integrity' is recited:
I, (name), being a resident of the [West/North/East] Riding of Yorkshire [or City of York] declare:
That Yorkshire is three Ridings and the City of York, with these Boundaries of 1124 years standing;
That the address of all places in these Ridings is Yorkshire;
That all persons born therein or resident therein and loyal to the Ridings are Yorkshiremen and women;
That any person or corporate body which deliberately ignores or denies the aforementioned shall forfeit all claim to Yorkshire status.
These declarations made this Yorkshire Day [year].
God Save the Queen!
Yorkshire Games are often held, featuring such traditional pastimes as:
Knur and spell - a type of golf, in which a ball is released from a sling and hit as far as possible.
British bulldogs - similar to the traditional playground game.
Piggyback wrestling - wrestling in teams of two, with one team-member carried on the shoulders of the other.
Tug-of-war - two teams hold on to each end of a rope and attempt to pull a flag placed in the centre of the rope past a certain point (and pull the opposing team over in the process).
Arm wrestling - in which the hands of the competitors are clasped, with the elbows on a table, as each tries to push the wrist of his opponent down onto the surface of the table.
Wellie-wanging - competitors attempt to throw a wellington boot as far as possible.
And, of course, no Yorkshire Day would be complete without wearing a white rose in one's lapel and eating some Yorkshire pudding.