If you’re reading this over the long weekend, I hope you’re making the most of it. I hope it’s Sunday afternoon and you’re revelling in having a whole other day before it’s back to work. Or it’s Monday morning and by now you would normally be sitting in a strategy meeting and carefully strategizing your lunch, but today you don’t even need to get dressed unless you really want to.
I hope you’re making the most of it, because you’ve just gorged on half the year’s bank holidays in a little over a month, you greedy thing. The next one isn’t until August. The children aren’t even in school then, it hardly counts!
In the UK, we get eight bank holidays a year. That sounds nice, doesn’t it? Fair, maybe even generous?
But what they don’t tell you, is that’s the lowest rate in all of Europe. And among the lowest in the world. Mexico falls behind the UK by one, with just seven statutory public holidays a year.
Colombia and India boast the most bank holidays, with 18 apiece. Lebanon, South Korea and Thailand all enjoy 16 each year, while Finland, Japan, Argentina and Chile take a comfortable 15. Goodness knows how their sofa stores stay in business with all the sales they must have.
Some argue that we don’t really need bank holidays at all these days, what with labour laws and 28 days of mandatory leave for full time workers in the UK. After all, the first Bank Holidays Act of 1871 was drafted out of a desire to encourage workers to play more cricket. Wonderfully British, but more than a touch anachronistic.
My take on the matter is yes, yes we do need these bank holidays. They are about lie-ins and dog walks and resolutely barbecuing sausages under an umbrella as the rain pours. They are about getting round to cutting the grass and picking out paint at B&Q. They are about not knowing what day of the week it is for at least four days afterwards. They are about remembering what life outside of work really means to us.
But which days to choose?
et’s sweep up the Saint’s days first. The days of our four countries’ patrons – St Patrick, St David, St Andrew and St George – often go unacknowledged, save for a few sickly green cocktails. Honouring these fellows with a day off would bring the recognition they deserve. And think of the parties…
Next, let’s look overseas for inspiration. South Korea celebrates Hangul (alphabet) Day on 9th October. Of course! The alphabet! The bricks and mortar of words, the Lego of sentences, the unsung hero of modern society. For years we have neglected these hardworking As Bs and Cs. I propose to give them their own day, once a year, during which we try our best not to use a single one in anger.
We could copy Thailand’s National Constitution Day celebrated on 10th December each year. It would be day to celebrate the underappreciated workhorses of the country – politicians! And we could honour them by sitting around, doing next to nothing and getting paid for it. Wait a minute…
What about Greenery Day, as celebrated in Japan on 4th May? It’s a whole 24 hours to spend connecting with nature and being grateful for its many blessings. It chimes with us here at Center Parcs HQ, where we’re always looking for an excuse to head into our forests for the day – it’s good for the soul.
So, my friends, let’s rise up together and vow not to stop until all these days are recognised as national UK holidays! We will stand side by side and we will not cease campaigning until our voices are heard. We will fight for these rights of the workers! We will… we will start on Tuesday. Because right now it’s a three-day weekend, and I have a date with Netflix.