Red days…that aren’t

I don’t want any new person to my blog to think that I am Swedbashing … what I am trying to do is provide perspective to things that I find different from my own Canadian experience.

If you are not familiar with the term “red days” it just means bank holiday (England) or stat (utory) holiday (Canada).

Someone told me that May 1st was a holiday and I got excited. Then I found out it was on a Saturday, and I thought oh great! A 3 day weekend, with the Monday off. That is how it is done in Canada. A stat falls on a weekend, no problem! We just give you a day off on the Monday.

Not so in Sweden. I can only guess the reasons. 1. We already get a basic 5 weeks holiday a year, so what is a couple of missed red days every few years? or 2. Canada’s unions made it happen.

What I find funny is that May 1st is International Workers Day…and next year it is on a Sunday, so for 2 years the employers save money and the workers lose out (for those of us working Monday to Friday anyway). I don’t know what happens for weekend workers, since I think many businesses stay open.

And sadly, the next holiday, June 6th falls on a Sunday this year. Another lost day off!

BUT there is an official custom in Sweden that is unofficial in Canada. It is called “Helgdagsafton” (De facto half holidays). And basically today, Apr 30th, we get to leave the office early. Some companies, mine, only give us 2 extra hours, but many companies let everyone go at noon. It is a little confusing because until I just read the Wikipedia information about this, I just thought it had to do with the (non) holiday the day after.

But apparently as Wikipedia says:

There are instances where official holidays, de facto half days, official flagdays and other observances clash and several celebrations may run concurrently. One such case is the 30 April which is immediately followed by 1 May. 30 April is a de facto half day because it is the Walpurgis Eve and the main day for celebrations to the arrival of the spring season. The following day is actually Walpurgis Day; however, in the calendar it is primarily denoted as May Day, or Labor Day. This means that depending on your sympathies you may either celebrate it as May Day or as Walpurgis Day. In addition to this 30 April is also the king’s birthday and official flag day. Also 1 May is an official flag day by virtue of May Day or Walpurgis day. If either day would fall on a Sunday that day would also in that respect be an official holiday and a Christian holiday, as one of the Sundays following Easter.

In 2008, due to the unusually early Easter, Ascension Day occurred on 1 May. This was the first time this happened since May Day became a public holiday in 1939.  The next time these holidays overlap is in 2160. The next time Ascension Day will coincide with Walpurgis Eve on 30 April (which is the earliest possible day) is in 2285. (source Wikipedia)


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