Today - 17 November - is the anniversary of the death of Queen Mary in 1558, and so the first day of the queenery of Elizabeth I. A decade later, the 17th November was being celebrated as "Accession Day" across the country.
"Elizabth's Accession Day was probably the first political holiday in modern Europe and initiated the string of nationalist holidays that are now a staple of the Anglo-American calendar. While holidays like Guy Fawkes' Day or Independence Day seem perfectly normal today, the notion of a non-religious holiday, or even of a holy day celebrating a living figure, simply unimagineable before this in Europe."
James Shapiro, 1599: A year in the life of William Shakespeare, p. 187.Shapiro then goes on to detail the various objections and protests to this.
My maths is a bit wobbly, but I think we're two years off the 450th anniversary of this auspicious date. So I shall see you all back here on this day, 2008, to raise a glass to the ginger virgin and the ushering in of godless revelry.