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Too many bank holiday Mondays

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Tower of BabelCulture

Whether it's justified or not, France is always being accused by its neighbours of shirking and of always finding the best way to do the least possible. Is France not the birthplace of the 35 hour week and RTT (hours worked over the 35 week repaid in the form of days off) galore?

The French are not the only Europeans who like to rearrange their schedule to be able to forget the office for a few more days.

 In France the month of May is packed with international celebrations like 1 May, national celebrations (8 May) and religious celebrations (Monday of Pentecost). Consequently faire le pont (‘do the bridge’) or bridge the gap between bank holidays is a very valuable pastime for the French. What it involves is taking a day's holiday between two bank holidays and hey presto – you have weeks that seem more like long relaxing Sundays.... With their delusions of grandeur, a simple bridge is not enough for the Spaniards who also say irse de puente. They also describe taking more holidays off work as hacer un acueducto (doing an aqueduct ).

The Poles, who celebrate their independence on 3 May, have an untranslatable expression devoted entirely to it: jadę na majowkę (majowkę comes from the month of May).

Our British inventors of the free-market economy seem to find it difficult to leave the business model behind when take a bank holiday. No bridges in the English language either; originality is not clearly not considered good for profit as they simply take a long-weekend off from work.

What to do with all this free time? Staying in character, we end with the French who have the ideal proverb: en mai, fait ce qu'il te plait (in May, do exactly as you please).

First published on on 23 March 2008

Translated from Faire le pont