Yorkshire Day is a surprisingly short-lived tradition - and Sheffield star Sean Bean named a 'saint' for the day
Sunday (August 1) is Yorkshire Day – did you know the tradition only dates back to 1975, though?
The Yorkshire Society, which promotes the big day and all things Yorkshire, says that the date of August 1 date marks the regimental anniversary of the Battle of Minden on August 1, 1759, when English soldiers fought in Prussia – modern-day Germany – during the Seven Years War, wearing roses in their headdresses on that day.
The 51st Foot (later the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry) wore a white rose, which was adopted as the county emblem.
The society says that the date is also the anniversary of the emancipation of slaves in the British Empire in 1834, which was campaigned for by Yorkshire MP William Wilberforce.
A civic celebration is held by the society every year, with a gathering of mayors and civic leaders from around the county dressed in official regalia, which will be hosted this year by the city of York. It was Sheffield’s turn in 2017 and Rotherham’s last year, although in the end the pandemic meant the event had to go online.
Rotherham will play host again in 2023. Events include a thanksgiving service and a street parade by the massed dignitaries.
The host venue also holds the honour of being the official Yorkshire Day town or city for a full year. A Yorkshire Day flag is handed over on the day, with each council adding its own coat of arms to the flag to record the year.
The Yorkshire Ridings Society came up with the idea of Yorkshire Day in protest at local government boundary changes that took away the East Riding of Yorkshire when Humberside was created in 1974.
It co-opted the tradition of Minden Day that is still celebrated by various British Army regiments to the cause. When Humberside was finally abolished in 1995, the tradition of Yorkshire Day was firmly established and so it carried on.
Incidentally, the word riding, as in the North, East and West Ridings of Yorkshire, is derived from the Old Norse word thridding, which means one third. It was used to describe administrative districts of Yorkshire.
So, while there’s South Yorkshire, there’s no South Riding of Yorkshire – this area was in the West Riding.
The South Riding only exists in fiction, in Winifred Holtby’s 1936 novel of the same name.
Our sister paper the Yorkshire Post has reported that a company called My Sainted Aunt has launched a Saint Sean Bean range of candles and cushions to mark the big day.
The TV and film star, who was voted the second greatest Yorkshireman in a Taylors of Harrogate tea company poll in 2018 behind fellow Sheffielder Michael Palin, is featured smiling in saintly pose, complete with halo, on the product range, which is intended to raise a laugh, not an eyebrow.
There’s no sign of his ‘100% Blade’ tattoo on the product designs, though – after all, Yorkshire Day is for Owls fans as well. The website is at mysaintedaunt.com
Find out more about the Yorkshire Society at theyorkshiresociety.org