Sunday, 13 March 2011

The Case of Public Holidays

Australia DayI had special plans for this weekend. I wanted to write a post entitled "My Fellow Australians, We Are Being Shafted"; then I found out the entire premises of this post was just wrong.
I wanted to write on how Aussies get less public holidays than their international counterparts. I thought the point is worth making both to enlighten Australians and to enlighten the rest of the world that often stereotypes Aussies as lazy. When I did my research, though, I found out I was wrong: it turns out the number of public holidays received by Aussies (or at least Victorians) is similar to the number received by Brits, Americans and Israelis. All those receive significantly less days off than Germans, but then again the point I wanted to make does not sound so exciting when countries of a more similar nature to Australia do not stand up to be counted.
So what is the problem with Australian public holidays, Victorian ones in particular? I see it as a case of double trouble:
  1. Poor distribution: Victorian holidays suffer from a huge dry period between the middle of June to early November. That stretch, which also coincides with the depressing nature of winter, is too hard to bear.
  2. Non religious nature: Not that I'm trying to advocate religion here, but when I compare Israel to Australia the lack of religious holidays is obvious.
    Other than Independence Day, all Israeli holidays are religiously based. The advantage of a religious holiday is that it's got build up and it's better enforced. Australia has Christmas with its buildup and Easter with its four days off, but Israel has two holidays that span over a week - Sukot and Pesach (aka Passover); not only that, those holidays are better spread (roughly September and April vs. December and April), an advantage gained by the fact the Jewish holidays come from agricultural origins whereas Christmas is astronomical and Easter agricultural (if anyone tells you these holidays are there because of Jesus, tell them they're in Dreamland).
I think the solution is simple: Australia needs to invent new public holidays. My first nomination would be Grand Final Weekend: more people follow it than any religious ceremony, so we might as well enshrine it.

Image by Halans, Creative Commons licensing


Uri said...

It’s funny how everyone is always sure they’re getting the least amount of days.

BTW, you’ve been gone awhile, but how can you say we have several week long holidays? We work on Hol-HaMoed, you know.

Moshe Reuveni said...

As I said, we're getting the same number of days. However, you must admit that there is a different feeling in the air during the week long holidays; it's not the same as any other week. Sure, you may be working that week on a personal basis, but there are also people working through Christmas here.