Commonwealth Day is a holiday celebrated by the Commonwealth of Nations on the 2nd Monday of March. So if you want to know when is Commonwealth Day in 2017 you can easily enumerate it and get the date. It will be the 13th of March.
Every year the holiday gets some thematic direction. In 2017 Peace-building Commonwealth Day is going to be celebrated.
After the British Empire lost 13 American colonies there were 2 lines of political development. The first line was oriented on the widening of British influence in India and on the Far East. The second line supposed developing of self-government in the colonies along with the widening of influence. British government hoped it would prevent freedom revolutions similar to what happened in America. So if American Revolution did not happen you probably wouldn’t now be asking what day Commonwealth Day in 2017 and reading this article.
The term “Commonwealth of Nations” was introduced by the British Prime Minister, Lord Rosebery, in 1884. The Commonwealth itself started to exist in 1887. It was announced at the colonial conference which formalized the basement of the new colonial politics. The most developed colonies became dominions, first autonomous quasi-public entities, then actually independent states. These are Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and others. All these states were declared to be equal, independent, loyal to the British Crown, free members of British Commonwealth of Nations.
After the World War II, the British Empire disintegrated. India became an independent republic so the British monarch could not be the head of this state anymore. The name “British Commonwealth of Nations” lost its “British” part and the organization itself was now seen as the one giving states differing in development level and economical character the opportunity to cooperate as equals.
Several states left the Commonwealth during the second half of the XX century. The membership of the RSA was stopped in 1961 and renewed in 1994. India also renewed its membership accepting the British monarch as the symbol of the Commonwealth.
So now the Commonwealth has 17 members excluding the UK. These countries accept the British Monarch as the head of state. But he/she has no real political power as well as the UK has no political influence on these countries. Though the Commonwealth is expected to give equality to all its members, leaders of African countries often blame “White Commonwealth” in racism and colonialism as well as political pressure. So it would not be a good idea to ask them when is Commonwealth Day 2017.
Today the total population of the countries in the Commonwealth is about 2.245 billion people. That is around 30% of the total population of the world. India has the biggest population (about 1 billion people) in the Commonwealth being followed by Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nigeria. Tuvalu has the smallest population (12 thousand people).
The total area of the Commonwealth is about 1 quarter of the earth. The biggest countries are Canada, Australia, and India again. Most of the countries of the Commonwealth are situated in Africa.
Commonwealth membership is open to all states accepting its main aims. There is also such requirement as the country pretending to become a member of the Commonwealth should have some constitutional connections with the UK now or in the past. This rule was broken when Mozambique became the member of the Commonwealth in 1995 as all its neighbors gave their voices for this country. In 1997 the heads of the Commonwealth countries agreed it would be an exception and not make a precedent. But in 2009 the rule was broken again for African state Ruanda.
Leaders of several countries said about their wish to enter the Commonwealth, Charles de Gaulle (France) and David Ben-Gurion (Israel) were among them. It means they saw a powerful ally in the Commonwealth.
Some Commonwealth countries have holidays somehow connected with the Commonwealth. For example, several of them celebrate Queen’s Birthday. In Canada and Scotland, there is Victoria Day. We should say in these countries more people are not really interested in what is the date of Commonwealth Day 2017.
The idea to celebrate Commonwealth Day came from Canada. As we already said there is a tradition to celebrate Queen Victoria’s birthdays on the 24th of May in Canada. So at first this date bore the name of Empire Day (introduced by Clementina Trenholme, with corresponding speeches made and songs sung). In 1958 it was renamed into Commonwealth Day. In 1976 the date was changed to having no historical connotation. So if you need to know when is Commonwealth Day in 2017, calendar would help you to get the right date.
In most countries, Commonwealth Day is not a legal holiday, so people do not get a day off. And most people don’t celebrate this day if they know that it exists indeed.
In London, Commonwealth Day is celebrated by a multi-faith service in Westminster Abbey. The Head of the Commonwealth as well as its other important persons attends the service. Queen Elisabeth II usually makes her speech to the nations.