Yorkshire Day: how it began and why it is celebrated nationwide

Here in Yorkshire, we're a particularly proud bunch.

Yorkshire Day has been celebrated since 1975, beginning as part of a protest movement against local government reforms

As the home of glorious rolling countryside, stunning castles, historic abbeys and outstanding natural scenery, we have plenty to be smiling about here in the North.

While our home pride may burn bright all year long, 1 August (also known as Yorkshire Day) is the date when we come together to celebrate all that’s great about our beloved county.

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A 43 year history

Ripon will be the official host of Yorkshire Day, showcasing some of the county's oldest traditions

Yorkshire Day was first celebrated in 1975 by the Yorkshire Ridings Society, beginning as part of a protest movement against local government reforms that came into force in 1974.

“Yorkshire Day is a relatively recent tradition,” explains Dr Henry Irving, Senior Lecturer in Public History at Leeds Beckett University.

“It began as a defiant way to celebrate the county’s history and heritages. “Government changes abolished Yorkshire’s three traditional ‘Ridings’ and saw parts of the historic county transferred to Humberside and Lancashire.”

Enduring local pride

Various celebrations are taking place across the county to celebrate local pride

Commemorated every year on 1 August, Yorkshire Day serves as an honourary celebration of the county’s rich history.

“Yorkshire Day is an opportunity to promote the county, send a defiant message to politicians in London and help boost the regional economy,” says Irving.

“Few people would now argue for a return to the historic Ridings, but the potential of devolution to metro mayors has increased the significance of local political identities.

“The day has a wider cultural value, as it gives the people of Yorkshire a chance to reflect on their heritage, and it’s a great opportunity to increase tourism and investment in Britain’s largest historic county.

“The fact that Yorkshire Day is still celebrated demonstrates the local pride and a particular Yorkshire ingenuity.”

Long standing traditions

While fun-filled celebrations (which typically involve eating a hefty amount of traditional Yorkshire food) are hosted across all four corners of the county, Yorkshire Day still sees some of the traditional customs take place.

One of these is the reading of the Yorkshire Declaration of Integrity, which is always recited in the city of York.

The Declaration of Integrity

I [your name] being resident in the [East/North/West] Riding of Yorkshire declare:

That Yorkshire is three Ridings & the City of York with these boundaries of 1140 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 Yorkshire men 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]. Yorkshire for ever! God save the Queen!

“The ceremony in York re-states the historic boundaries of the three Ridings, and declares anyone born within them to be a Yorkshireman or woman,” explains Irving.

“This tradition links Yorkshire Day to the foundation of the Viking Kingdom in Jorvik in 875 AD.”

Official celebrations

This year’s official celebrations will take place in Ripon, the smallest city in Yorkshire, with a civic parade with mayors from across the county, kicking off at the Spa Hotel and leading up to the Market Place, before the civic service at Ripon Cathedral from 11am to 12pm.

Later in the day, a picnic will be held in the Dean's Garden from 6pm to 8pm, with a BBQ, ice cream and fun activities for youngsters, while live music will be held at the Market Place from 7pm to 10pm, followed by a special hornblowing ceremony at 9pm.

The day will be rounded off by a grand firework display at 10pm.

Elsewhere, there are plenty of other events going on across the county to get involved with and show off your local pride.

“I hope that Yorkshire Day helps people to reflect on the history of their local area. This goes for people outside Yorkshire, as well as those who live in the county,” says Irving.

“I think it’s important we remember the political dimension. The changes in local government that led to the first Yorkshire Day in 1975 had an impact across the country and, in an era of devolution, the relationship between local identity and political structures are as important as ever.”