CR vs Spain: Holidays

10 May

Speaking of Easter and Burning Witches in the Czech Republic, May 1 was also just a holiday: Labor Day (this is celebrated in many countries around the world). But you wouldn’t know it because since it fell on a Sunday no one gets a day off. May 8 was also a holiday, celebrating the liberation of the country by the USSR in 1945. This holiday also fell on a Sunday this year, so again no weekdays were given off to recognize the day. This is typical in the Czech Republic. And when a holiday falls on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, you get only that one day off, no days before or after to make a long weekend.

This is precisely the opposite of how holidays are recognized in Spain. If the holiday falls on the weekend, you are given off either Friday or Monday. And if the holiday falls on Wednesday, you typically have off Monday and Tuesday as well. They call this a “puente,” which means “bridge”. Looking back at my calendar from last year I had no fewer than five puentes throughout the school year. Here in Czech Republic I’ve had two. (In both places I had the almost the same amount of time off around Christmas, except I got a few more days off in January in Spain, and one week of Spring break.)

You could make the argument that Spain is too excessive in its puentes, that occasionally having just one day off in the middle of the week wouldn’t be so bad. But given the choice of living in a country that is liberal with holidays versus a country that is stingy with them, I definitely would chose the former. It gives people more things to look forward to. Students are a little less crazy and in general people are happier (though I suspect that has a lot to do with other factors, not just holidays, though I don’t think more holidays could hurt).

Spain is also awesome because they still recognize tons of Catholic holidays even though the number of practicing Catholics in the country has declined in the days since Franco’s reign ended. Under Communism in the Czech Republic religion was suppressed so much so that now there are really no religious holidays that are celebrated. As I mentioned in my post about Easter, it is not a religious holiday here. It’s only about spring and painting eggs and boys hitting girls with their sticks. Which again is the polar opposite of Spain, who dedicates an entire week to remembering the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Religious beliefs aside, Spain is the clear winner in the holiday category, and I look forward to spending another year there next year (more on that later!). This brings the grand total of CR 2, Spain 4.

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