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The alternative bank holidays the UK could adopt from around the world

3 min read

25 April 2015

Not since William and Kate tied the knot in 2011 have the British workforce had more than eight national holidays. With other countries around the world having many more, we look at some of the odder reasons for a day off.

Bank holidays hold an odd mixture of joy and pain in the hearts of the British. Lie-ins, rain sweeping over beaches, “six-packs of beer” as Blur once sang and traffic jams.

According to recent research from finance firm Mercer, England and Wales only have eight of these bank holidays a year to celebrate compared with a huge 18 in Colombia, 14 in Morocco and Spain and 12 in Brazil.

Some of the public want St George’s Day, just passed of course, to be added to our list – but business leaders appear reluctant to support another day of empty offices, emails left unsent and meetings delayed.

So if not St George’s Day, are there any other anniversaries or special events with which we can tempt our bosses to let us switch off our computer screens and celebrate?

Here are seven of the most colourful national days-off around the globe for inspiration:

(1) Albania

Mother Theresa Day (October 19): The life of Albanian Mother Theresa, the Nobel Peace Prize winner who dedicated her life to the sick and poor, is celebrated by a day of mass and prayer.

(2) Barbados

Kadooment Day (August): This summer street festival celebrates the end of the sugar cane harvest. There is a “jump-up” to enjoy which is basically dancing through the streets to Calypso tunes.

(3) Cambodia

Royal Ploughing Ceremony (May): This is a day dedicated to predicting the weather and farming conditions for the rest of the year. Predictions are made based on which trays, containing rice, grass, corn, beans, water and wine, a group of oxen eat from.

Read more about bank holidays:

(4) Japan

Health and Sports Day (October): Created in 1966, two years after Tokyo held the Olympics, to promote sports and active lifestyles. Schools, businesses and towns hold special sports day events including three legged races, beanbag tosses and tug-of-war.

(5) Turkmenistan

Melon Day (August): A day dedicated to the “sunny fruit” of which 500 types are grown in Turkmenistan. Who knew?

Melons are displayed all over the country and the nation’s best growers are showered with gifts. Prizes are available for “best golden melon” and “biggest watermelon”.

(6) Bermuda

Bermuda Day (May): This is when the public takes their first summer dip in the ocean and release their boats into the water. Everybody wears Bermuda shorts.

(7) Bolivia

Day of the Sea (March 23): Marks the loss of Bolivia’s Port of Calama to Chile in 1879 and officially in 1904 when Bolivia ceded its coastal territories to its South American neighbour. On a solemn day for the now land-locked nation Bolivians listen to recordings of seagulls and ship’s horns.

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