In Belarus, there are an average of seven and a half public holidays a year for every working person. This is noticeably less than the global average — in other countries people rest for almost 11 days. Theoretically, the situation can be changed by introducing a new holiday or by changing the approach to transfer of existing ones, for instance. But what if the idea is senseless and will not help a person recover after a working week and harm the economy instead? Let’s get right into it.

  • Svetlana BaksichevaJournalist
  • Anton DevyatovData journalist, infographer
  • Имя
    Elena PashininaEditor

Are there really few days off in Belarus?

Unfortunately, yes. Global statistics show that our country is almost at the very end of the list of European countries. Things are worse (are they?) only in the Netherlands. Whichever way you look at it, there are few holidays in Belarus.

Do we need more holidays?

  • Имя
    Lev LvovskyExpert at the Belarusian Economic Research and Outreach Center (BEROC)

    Going forward, additional days off have more pluses than minuses. As for the economy, the only negative consequence is the likely decrease in wages.

    The thing is that many Belarusians get paid for every day of work. After the introduction of additional days off, a vacation will not be compensated and people will lose part of their income. However, this can be prevented at the legislative level: employees who work on an ongoing basis should be provided with monthly payments.

    In some cases, an extended vacation can complicate the work of enterprises. But in the long run, it can become an advantage: people will become more productive, and employers will be interested in developing their business.

    Belarus has low labor productivity, which should be increased not in an extensive, but in an intensive way. It might be useful to get enterprises to work less hours so that it motivates them to invest in innovation. If a country has very low income, for many it may be more profitable not to purchase new equipment or automate production, but to use cheap manual labor.

    However, it does not mean that one needs to “to work and rest for six months.”

    Obviously, there are too few days off in Belarus in comparison with other countries. However, their number should be increased gradually. Here is one of the scenarios — first, introduce a couple of additional days off and evenly distribute them, then change the policy regarding transfers. Then, after a few years, introduce another couple of days off. To make the system more flexible, one can give different regions the right to choose additional five days off per year. This can be effective in regions where people profess different faiths. To reduce losses caused by extra days off, it is better to time them to days off with leading trading partners — the Russian or European market.

    The development of domestic tourism is another plus for the economy.

    It’s perfect when there are several short, three-day weekends. This is particularly relevant for Belarus, our country is pretty small, and this would allow people to go on mini-vacations, which, in turn, would stimulate the development of the service sector. In addition, practice shows that people are more productive when they relax more. Weekends allow them to relax and go to work with renewed vigor.

  • Имя
    Tatyana PutyatinaPsychologist

    Psychologically, an increase in the number of days off has no drawbacks. In my opinion, Belarusians need longer New Year holidays.

    This is the only holiday that unites people of different ages and faiths. Winter in Belarus is long, many people are morally and physically tired of it, and this bright event in the middle of gray everyday life can really save people from subdepressive conditions. The best option would be to go on vacation before the New Year so that the festive bustle does not cause stress. In addition, having Christmas and New Year holidays is a common practice everywhere in the world.

    We do not have to follow Russia’s approach and extend the holidays for 13 days. I suggest one week long vacation.

    I have always questioned the days off transfer. It is great to have an extra day off, but it doesn’t feel cool to work off this day on Saturday. From a biological point of view, it is not possible to rest and sleep in reserve. And therefore, when there is only one day off, one will feel miserable and dissatisfied. Moreover, such a Saturday does not become a full-time working day, usually people work much worse and come to work just to be there. This is not beneficial to both the employee or the employer.

    However, a few extra days off will not solve the problem of burnout and will not allow a person to rest for several months in advance. In this regard, it is important to change the attitude to occupational health and an eight-hour work day.

    There is another serious problem that needs to be addressed comprehensively. For example, some companies in the Scandinavian countries and Australia practice a shorter working day or a third day off. And they say that labor efficiency only increases. Sometimes, four days are enough to relax and reboot and return to work with a clear head.

What about holidays in other countries? Patterns and fun facts

Nepal has the largest number of public holidays — an average of 29,5 days a year. Interesting that at the same time the country has a six-day work week. It is followed by Cambodia with 26 days off and Iran with 23,3 days off. The fewest non-working days are in Uruguay (only 6 days), Eritrea (5,7) and Costa Rica (4,9).

As for the month, the most non-working time is April, followed by December, May and January. At the same time, there are fewer days off in February, September and July.

It makes sense that the number of days off depends on the dominant religion. In predominantly Hindu countries, there are an average of 23 days off, in Buddhist — 15 days off, in Muslim — 11 days off, in Christian — 10 days off.

The distribution of weekends in a year also depends on religion. So, in predominantly Christian countries, the most non-working months are April and December, in predominantly Muslim countries it’s March, June and August.

Asia stands out among the continents — the countries of this part of the world have an average of 13 days off per year. Countries of Europe, America, Africa and Oceania have an average of 10−10,5 days off.

In much of the world, people celebrate Independence Day, in many states, they do not work on Constitution Day and rest on National Flag Day in just several of them (American Samoa, Aruba, Azerbaijan, Curacao, Eswatini (also known as Swaziland).

At the same time, Labor Day is celebrated in more than a hundred countries around the world, and International Women’s Day is celebrated mainly in the countries of the former USSR and Africa. At least seventeen countries have a day off for children or youth.

In France, Belgium, the regions of Canada, the USA and some other countries, people do not work on November 11, the day of the end of World War I. The countries of the former USSR, France, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bosnia and Herzegovina have a day off on May 8 or 9, when World War II ended. It turns out that France is the only country where the end of both wars are days off.

There are countries where the change of the year is celebrated according to local traditional calendars (as opposed to the international one on January 1). The celebrations according to the lunar (Chinese New Year), solar (Persian or Navruz) and Muslim calendars are particularly common. Thus, Indonesians have four rest days on international, Chinese, Hindu, and Muslim New Year days. In Myanmar, they have three New Year related days off: international, Myanmar, Karen (the Karen are an ethnic group in Myanmar).

Besides usual holidays, there are unusual ones. In Iran, there is a non-working Oil Nationalization Day, UN Day in Micronesia, Reed Dance Day in Eswatini (also known as Swaziland), Neutrality Day in Turkmenistan. There are a lot of unusual weekends in Japan: Greenery Day, Mountain Day, Coming of Age Day, Respect for the Aged Day, and Fitness Day.

Okay, what days could be days off in Belarus?

Experts confirm our belief that Belarusians could use a few extra days off. However, they can’t be added just like that — most holidays correspond to an important date in national life. Therefore, we decided to dream up what days could be turned into weekends. The list of options is compiled in random order.

So, the first candidate is Monday, which follows Easter. Сuriously, there are few religious holidays in Belarus in comparison with other Christian countries. We believe that this is the most logical candidate of all religion-related options.

Another nominee is the feast day of Saint Euphrosyne of Polotsk on June 5. In many countries there is a day off associated with the main local saint, and this patron saint seems to be the most suitable person for us.

Фото: Вадим Замировский, TUT.BY
Фото: Вадим Замировский, TUT.BY

Belarusians could rest on Monday after the second weekend of September, when Dozhinki is held in the country. Let’s face it, a country with a strong agricultural background is bound to celebrate the harvest festival. It would be great if this day could be timed to a sacred folk ritual — digging up potatoes. Thousands of our compatriots could be engaged in agricultural work, and rest and recuperate on a weekday.

The next option is Kupala Night, or July 7. People around the world have a tradition to celebrate the summer or winter solstice. A similar holiday exists in Scandinavia, the Baltic countries, Hungary, the Czech Republic, South America. Such a day is not linked to the state or religion, but it reminds us of folk culture and local traditions. In addition, it is quite an analogue of the carnival.

Another potential day off is September 1. There are many countries in the world where Youth Day is a day off. In our actual living conditions, it would be logical to declare a day of celebratory school assemblies a day off. It has at least one practical benefit — parents will not have to ask for a leave of absence to take their child to school.

We also predictably suggest replacing November 7 with December 5, the day when the First All-Belarusian Congress was held. The memory of the challenging times needs to be immortalized.

The anniversary of the victory in the Battle of Grunwald, or July 15, is also on the list. We believe it could be our new Defender of the Fatherland Day.

Independence Day wraps up the list. It could be transferred to July 27 (when the declaration of state sovereignty was adopted) or August 25 (de facto independence — the day when the declaration was given constitutional rank). At the same time, there is no need to remove July 3 — it can be renamed Liberation Day.

No, we didn’t forget about Freedom Day. In our opinion, this day is quite suitable for adding to the list of public holidays. However, the authorities have an ambiguous attitude towards it, so this is hardly possible.

What days do you consider worthy of becoming day offs?

Share your opinion with us, tell us which days you would make non-working. We will analyze all points of view and publish the results in a separate text.

Data source: Q++Studio

  • Only national holidays were considered in the calculations. In Australia, Canada, Switzerland, Malaysia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, most holidays are regional, for these countries one of the regions was taken as a basis for analysis.

  • Regional holidays in Germany and Austria were not considered.

  • National holidays falling on a day off were not counted.
    At the same time, it was taken into account that in different countries they have days off on various days.

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