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

By Tayyaba Rehman — Published on November 7, 2023
A Bank Holiday refers specifically to a day banks close, not necessarily observed as a holiday by all, while a Public Holiday is a nationwide holiday recognized and observed by the general public.
Bank Holiday vs. Public Holiday — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Bank Holiday and Public Holiday


Key Differences

The term "Bank Holiday" originated in the UK and primarily denotes days when banking institutions close for business. This doesn't always mean that other businesses and services are closed. However, Public Holidays are days when most businesses, schools, and other organizations are closed. This is because they are holidays observed by the entire nation.
In certain countries, a Bank Holiday can overlap with a Public Holiday, but they're not always synonymous. A Bank Holiday might be exclusive to banks, with the rest of the services operating as usual. A Public Holiday, on the other hand, affects nearly all sectors and is observed by a broader population.
While Bank Holidays focus on banking institutions, the term has evolved in some places to be more broadly used, sometimes interchangeably with Public Holidays. Still, their origin pertains to banks. Public Holidays typically commemorate specific events, historical figures, or important religious days and are recognized by government statutes.
Understanding the distinction between a Bank Holiday and a Public Holiday is crucial for planning, especially for businesses. While a Bank Holiday might affect financial transactions, a Public Holiday has a broader impact, affecting logistics, operations, and general public activities.
In global contexts, it's essential to realize that the interpretation and observance of Bank Holidays and Public Holidays vary. Some countries might not recognize a Bank Holiday, while others might have numerous Public Holidays rooted in their culture and history.

Comparison Chart


Pertains to banks and financial institutions.
Nationwide recognition.


Mainly by banks.
By the general public and most organizations.


Can coincide with a Public Holiday.
Can be a Bank Holiday in some contexts.


Affects financial transactions.
Affects general public activities.


Early May Bank Holiday in the UK.
Independence Day in the U.S.

Compare with Definitions

Bank Holiday

Not always observed by non-banking entities.
Despite the Bank Holiday, the retail stores were open.

Public Holiday

Commemorates significant events or figures.
The nation celebrated its founder's birthday as a Public Holiday.

Bank Holiday

Sometimes overlaps with public observances.
The Bank Holiday coincided with the festival, making the city vibrant.

Public Holiday

Observed by a vast majority of businesses and organizations.
Schools and offices were closed due to the Public Holiday.

Bank Holiday

A day when banks remain closed.
The Bank Holiday caused a slight delay in the wire transfer.

Public Holiday

Declared and recognized by government statutes.
The government announced a new Public Holiday to honor the historical event.

Bank Holiday

Originated from UK banking customs.
The August Bank Holiday is a summer favorite in the UK.

Public Holiday

Has broader implications than just financial transactions.
Transportation schedules often change on a Public Holiday.

Bank Holiday

Primarily affects financial operations.
Due to the Bank Holiday, the stock market was not operational.

Public Holiday

A day recognized by a country as a non-working day.
The entire city was festive during the Public Holiday.

Common Curiosities

Are Public Holidays the same worldwide?

No, Public Holidays are country-specific, rooted in their culture, history, or religious observances.

What's the primary distinction between a Bank Holiday and a Public Holiday?

A Bank Holiday pertains mainly to banks, while a Public Holiday is a nationwide observance.

Can a day be both a Bank Holiday and a Public Holiday?

Yes, in some contexts, a Bank Holiday can overlap with a Public Holiday.

Do Public Holidays affect stock markets?

Often, stock markets are closed on Public Holidays, but it varies by country.

Is the term "Bank Holiday" used interchangeably with "Public Holiday"?

In some contexts, especially in the UK, the terms might be used interchangeably, but they have different origins.

Do all countries observe Bank Holidays?

No, the concept of Bank Holidays originates from the UK, and not all countries recognize them.

Can the government introduce a new Public Holiday?

Yes, governments can declare new Public Holidays based on significance or public demand.

Are banks always closed on Public Holidays?

Mostly, banks remain closed on Public Holidays, but it can vary based on the country or region.

Why was the term "Bank Holiday" created?

It was to denote days when banking institutions in the UK would remain closed.

If it's a Bank Holiday, can I still shop at retail stores?

Yes, a Bank Holiday mainly affects banks, so many retail stores might remain open.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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