An Austrian friend and I got talking about public holidays the other day. The conversation was stimulated by the fact that in June we will have six days of public holiday. He started to complain that as some of the public holidays this year fall on weekends (Christmas for example) 2011 will in fact be a poor year for leisure time. Unlike the UK, holidays here follow the religious
calendar and are never moved.
I tried to be sympathetic to my friend’s frustrations but in Austria we have more holidays than the UK and an interesting Austrian quirk. Take June, technically there are only three bank holidays which fall on Tuesday and Thursdays rather than as in England on the first Monday. The Austrian approach to this inconvenience is that if the holiday falls on the Thursday you have the Friday off, whilst if it falls on the Tuesday you have the Monday before off as well. A rather simple but elegant solution to the problem of holidays disrupting the week.
Ah yes my hard working British friends might say but what about the economy. Ah well yes, the Austrians do like their holiday time, weekend often start early on Fridays and shops are closed on Sunday. Oddly the Austrian GDP has generally been higher than the UK’s since the fifties and the economy is in better shape at the moment than Britain’s (though in part this has to do with the strong links with the German economy which is also doing well presently).