Yorkshire Day is celebrated on August 1st of each year to promote the historic city of Yorkshire. It was celebrated in 1975, by the Yorkshire Ridings Society, initially in Beverley, as “protest movement against the Local Government re-organisation of 1974”, The date alludes to the Battle of Minden, and also the anniversary of the emancipation of slaves in the British Empire in 1834, for which a Yorkshire MP, William Wilberforce, had campaigned.
The day was already celebrated by The Light Infantry, successors to the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, as Minden Day. Together with five other infantry regiments of the British Army, a rose is permitted to be worn in the headdress. In the case of the Light Infantry, the rose is white.
Amongst the celebrations there is a Civic gathering of Lord Mayors, Mayors, and other Civic Heads from across the country, convened by the Yorkshire Society.
Despite the serious underlying purpose and money-raising activities for charity, some Yorkshire people worry that it has become a media and marketing jamboree, perpetuating stereotypes of whippets, black puddings and flat caps. “We have to be careful not to overdo it, but regional distinctiveness adds colour. I’m against a grey uniformity spreading over everything, which is the way the world is going,” says Arnold Kellett from the Yorkshire Dialect Society. Others have called it a ‘Masonic Jamboree’ because of its impressive list of council leaders and officials.
In its early years, the day was not widely acknowledged. A 1991 Times editorial read: Today is Yorkshire Day. Not many people know that, as a very non-Yorkshire person likes to say, and probably not many Yorkshiremen either know or care. It is almost as artificial as Father’s Day, which, as all thrifty northerners know, was created to sell more greetings cards.