Wednesday, 10 August 2022
Englishman in Dubrovnik Englishman in Dubrovnik

Why isn't the most important day on Dubrovnik's calendar a public holiday?

Written by  Jan 30, 2022

Should St. Blaise be an official public holiday in Dubrovnik? Well, you might argue that Croatia has way too many public holidays already. Do we really need another one?

How many do we have and where are we in the league of public holidays across Europe?

Croatia currently has 14 free days annually. 12 would seem a good number, one holiday every month, and that’s exactly where the Italians are. However, if you take into account all the regional holidays then you’re going to add another 13 to that number. Meaning that cities such as Venice, Milan and Trieste have another free day. Which again raises the question, if Italian cities can make these days of their saints a public holiday then why can’t we?

Yes, I know that city run institutions aren’t open, but that’s not really an official holiday is it.

“You can’t go to the post office today because it’s a bank holiday,” said a family member two days after Christmas. I couldn’t remember this detail. Was it the same when I was young? I didn’t think it was. Now the UK has one of the fewest number of public holidays, or bank holidays as they call them as the banks don’t work, at only 8 annually.

However, there is a difference between a public holiday in the UK and most of Europe. Yes, it isn’t only driving on the right, using miles instead of kilometres and using different plugs that differs the island from the rest of the continent. And this was a difference that I had forgotten. If a holiday falls on a weekend, such as Christmas and Boxing Day did this year, then the public holidays are substituted to the next week days, meaning that this year both Monday and Tuesday were holidays. The exact opposite of most of Europe.

So those 8 days are fixed as 8, whilst the Croatian number dropped by at least 2 this year. And indeed isn’t really fixed at 14 in any given year due to the number that fall on Saturdays and Sundays.

For example, Germany only has 9 but again if the holiday falls on a weekend, no substitute day is given. Most of Europe is the same, with the exemption of Switzerland that has only 4 public holidays, if the holiday falls on a weekend, you do not get an extra weekday in lieu.

Of course Croatians are experts at “bridging” holidays, if that public holiday falls on a Thursday you can be sure that Friday is going to crossed off as a free day as well. And you would probably have thought that this practise is a typical Croatian one. You’d be wrong! A country that regularly finds itself at the top of the list of countries with the best standard of living is also a “bridging” country. Sweden!

It seems that we have something to learn from the Scandinavians. And this blows out the water the argument that more public holidays mean less productivity. The exact opposite is the case.

So the Swedes have 9 holidays a year, plus Midsummer’s Eve, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve are not national public holidays in Sweden, but the majority of employers treat them as such. So, that takes them to Italian levels. But here is the bonus, in many workplaces there are additional public holiday policies. The most common include a half-day before certain public holidays, or ‘bridge days’, so that if a public holiday falls on a Tuesday or Thursday, the Monday before or Friday after is given as an extra day off.

Seems like the Swedes don’t spend all their time making IKEA furniture. The north and south of Europe are closer than we actually think.

So if the Swedes can do it, surely we can honour St. Blaise with a public holiday. As almost of the public holidays are religious in their origin anyway, a day for our patron saint wouldn’t be so unusual, would it?

Long Live St. Blaise! 

Read more Englishman in Dubrovnik…well, if you really want to


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