Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Give me a break...

Assumption Day - and whilst we will make no assumptions as to how significant this is for most of the population of a secular state (it is a feast day recognising the passing into heaven of the Virgin Mary) this remains a holiday in France. A public holiday during the month when anyone in France who possibly can is away on holiday seems a little odd, but religious and other traditions have their own ways.

It is generally felt in the UK that the French enjoy far more such holidays (bank holidays, as they are known in Britain). Of course, when living in a country you discover the less widely known truths - in the case of public holidays, there are more here but, unlike the UK, if they fall on the weekend, then there is no compensating extra day off work in lieu of this. The holiday is taken on the actual day. So, all shops and businesses can be closed on a Saturday.

That said, the French have mastered a particular art - where possible they will faire le pont (make the bridge). If a holiday falls nicely on a Tuesday or Thursday, then it is common to add the Monday or Friday to the equation to make a nice long weekend! In a good year this can amount to a few long weekends. On reflection, perhaps the Brits are right - the French do have the whole public holiday thing well organised!

Photo: Francesc Cloquell

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