Ah, public holidays. Those unexpected days off that can sneak up on you if you don’t pay close enough attention (not that anyone doesn’t have them all mapped out). Given that they’re often country-specific celebrations, some countries get more of them than others: the best place to work if you like your holidays is India, with 21(!), but this is a list of the worst places:
See also: How to Ask Your Boss for Holiday Leave
Trailing just behind India comes Thailand with a generous 16 days of public holidays. In Thailand, they celebrate their New Year in April. In the spirit of holidays being misappropriated, what was originally a time for "the Thai people to sprinkle water on their family members and elders for good fortune and pay their respects to images of the beloved Buddha" is now a fun three-day Water Festival, or Songkran.
Other countries with 16 days of public holidays include Turkey and Pakistan.
In Japan, they get 15 days of holidays, with a catch: four of them are combined into the Golden Week of celebrations, which includes the birthday of former Emperor Showa, Constitution Day, Greenery Day, and Children’s Day. I’d avoid visiting that week unless you’re a fan of big crowds!
Other countries with 15 days include Malaysia, Argentina, Lithuania, Vietnam, and Sweden.
I Love Chile
Chile comes next with 14 days. In Chile, May 21st is Día de las Glorias Navales, or Navy Day, which marks the date of the battle of Iquique in 1879 with parades, speeches, the start of parliament, and the annual State of the Nation address.
Other countries with 14 days of public holidays are Indonesia and Slovakia.
Unlucky for some, but lucky for Austria: they get 13 public holidays a year. In Austria, one such holiday is St. Rupert’s Festival, on which there is a large fair in Salzburg and the whole community comes together to celebrate their founding bishop by displaying their traditional dishes, clothing and interests.
Other countries include Pakistan, South Korea, Belgium, Norway, and Taiwan.
5. Russia and Finland
Probably something to do with them being so close together, these two share a number of holidays – 12 days! Russia is one of the countries that celebrate International Women’s Day (March 8) with an actual public holiday so that time can be spent with family and friends, giving gifts, and the men can take over the household chores for a day.
In Singapore, you get no fewer than 11 public holidays to either get out and enjoy your country’s heritage or stay at home because everyone else decides to go out and you’re more likely to get stuck in a traffic jam. Seven out of the 11 this year will mean long weekends!
Other countries with 11 holidays include Italy, Denmark, France, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, the Czech Republic, and Luxembourg.
7. United States
Coming in at exactly two weeks, the US is one of the countries with 10 days of holidays. Portugal is another, where Mardi Gras, or Carnival Tuesday, is always held seven Sundays before Easter Sunday and involves themed parades, dances and politicians being expected to literally grin and bear it.
Other countries with 10 days include Poland, New Zealand, Australia, Ukraine, the Netherlands, Croatia, and Romania.
Heading into the single digits with just 9 public holidays, we find Germany, Serbia, and Hungary. In Germany, they may have few holidays but they instead focus on allowing workers to take leave and organize their own working lives so that they can create a better work/life balance in general.
9. United Kingdom
Workers in the UK, Spain, and Canada get just 8 days. I can’t speak for Spain and Canada, but when you’re at university in England, it’s true that you’re more likely to get a day off for a snow day than a public holiday.
And the winner(?) is... Mexico! To be fair, with 7 days, it only has one day less than the previous ones, but when you’re on a list of the fewest holidays then that gets you to first place. One of the holidays they do have is what you and I call Halloween, but they call it Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead. Rather than making themselves sick on sweets, they honour the dead. Children are honoured on All Saints Day on November 1st, and everyone else on the following day, All Souls Day. Some regions have sweet bread and candy skeletons, others hold vigils and feasts in cemeteries, and others simply build family altars or public displays.
So, there you have it! Do you feel you’d like more public holidays where you are, or does everyone going out to do the same thing make for too many crowds for you? Do you think we should forget holidays in favour of a more flexible and balanced life like the Germans? Let us know!