There is a campaign afoot in the UK to introduce a Shakespeare Day into the calendar. Some campaigners go as far as to suggest an annual holiday.
It’s a great idea to have a Shakespeare Day. But a holiday? That surely couldn’t happen in the UK where the holiday calendar is fixed, and no holidays are named after people (unlike some countries which honour their heroes with a public holiday, such as Nelson Mandela Day in South Africa.)
So although a Shakespeare Day could be created it would likely not offer a day off work. Those celebrating it would have to do that in their own time. It needn’t be official, it could just be done by unofficial proclamation, like Burns Night, in honour of another British writer, Robert Burns. Burns Night has become so popular that it’s celebrated globally with haggis and whiskey (and is particularly popular in Russia!). Perhaps there could be a global Shakespeare Night with roast beef and ale.
The UK airline, Easyjet, is adopting a high profile in this campaign – quite literally. They have entered the Guinness Book of Records for the highest theatrical performance. On Shakespeare’s 450th birthday last month they loaded an acting group on board a plane and made a special flight with invited guests from Gatwick Airport, London, to Verona, Italy. The troupe performed an hour-long medley of Shakespearean drama at the front of the aircraft, whose fuselage had Shakespeare’s image painted on it.
The UK participates enthusiastically in any number of awareness days and weeks (World Refugee Day, Drowning Prevention Week, World Blood Donor Day, Elder Abuse Awareness Day to name a few), so why not a William Shakespeare Day?
Good idea but not necessary – the world is very aware of the Bard. And his birthday is celebrated around the world every year with special performances and other events… so in a sense there already is a William Shakespeare Day.