An expats perspective on Polish holidays
We all love a day off work. I’m always fascinated by the articles in Polish media about how best to use your holidays each year – you know, the 1st and 3rd of May fall on such and such a day, so if you take 3 days from your annual leave you can get a whole week off work. You guys really know how to squeeze the most out of national holidays.
UK Bank Holidays
Altogether England has 6 official Bank Holidays – New Year’s Day, Easter Monday, May Day, Spring and Late Summer Holidays at the end of May and August respectively and Boxing Day. There are also two common law holidays on Good Friday and Christmas Day. New Year’s, Christmas day or Boxing day fall on a Saturday or Sunday, the following Monday becomes a holiday.
St George’s Day 23rd April
Then, of course, there is England’s national day, St. George’s Day, on 23rd April. St. George is the patron saint of England and a 6th century story tells of St. George rescuing a fair maiden by slaying a fearsome fire-breathing dragon. St George became the patron saint of England in 1348 and in 1415 it became a national holiday. However, when the United Kingdom was formed, it was decided not continue with this day as a national holiday.
Poland versus the UK
As I said, in the UK, most holidays are based on Mondays, so you are always guaranteed a couple of long weekends per year. For example, in Poland, Labour Day is always the 1st of May, whereas in the UK, May Day is always the 1st Monday in May, not necessarily the 1st of May. This is one of the UK’s Bank Holidays – originally called so because banks were closed and no trading could be done on that day.
The best way to spend a national holiday?
Nowadays, however, a great many shops are open on certain bank holidays and do a roaring trade. May Day or the Spring Bank Holiday on the last Monday in May, for example, are extremely popular with DIY and gardening enthusiasts, so the big home and garden centres (hypermarkets) are packed with customers – an unfortunate result is that by the evening the hospital A&E departments are packed with those same people awaiting treatment for injuries incurred while making home improvements!
Another problem with the Bank Holidays in the warmer months is traffic – the roads to the south coast or other popular seaside resorts are chocker. You can spend hours in tailbacks dozens of kilometres long. The shopping outlets, shopping villages and shopping centres are also popular destinations during Bank Holidays.
So generally it seems that Bank Holidays are bad for our physical health (DIY accidents), mental health (stress in traffic jams) and financial health (maxing out the credit card in the shopping centre). So maybe we should just get rid of them and stay at work – it’s healthier!