Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Four Weeks Off?! Vacation Time in EU vs. USA and Ferragosto in Venice

Venice Lagoon on a Summer's Day - Photo: Cat Bauer
(Venice, Italy) Europeans are guaranteed by law a minimum of four weeks vacation. Americans are guaranteed by law zero vacation time.

Italians in particular are guaranteed four weeks vacation, plus 104 hours (about two weeks) of personal time to take kids to the doctors, go to the dentist, etc. In addition, employees receive 12 paid public holidays.

There are no federally mandated paid vacation or paid public holidays in the United States.Zilch. The average number of paid vacation days that private employers give their employees is 10 days after one year, 14 days after five years, and 17 days after 10 years. On average, after working for a private employer for 20 years, Americans finally get what their European counterparts get by law: 20 days paid vacation. If you want to know more about it, have a look at Wikipedia.

Even though the UK just voted to leave the European Union on June 23, the new Prime Minister, Theresa May, who came into office on July 13, is staying European when it comes to holidays. She is already on vacation in the Swiss Alps, and won't be back until August 24. 

Giudecca Canal - Venice, Italy
And if you think that makes Europeans less productive, it actually works the other way. Studies show that many European countries are actually more productive than the United States. Going on vacation recharges the mind and spirit, and reminds us that there are some beautiful things to enjoy on this planet. We come back refreshed after playing and soaking up some nature.

However, there are some Americans who do get substantial time off: the US Congress, who voted themselves a month off back in 1970. By law, Congress must adjourn between July 31 and Labor Day.

Emperor Augustus
Which brings us to Ferragosto, a uniquely Italian holiday, celebrated on August 15. The festival goes back more than 2,000 years when the first Roman Emperor Augustus thought everybody needed some time off after working so hard on the harvest, and declared the Feriae Augusti, or Festivals of Augustus. Even the emperor knew his citizens would be more productive after a break. 

Then, in the 1920s, the Fascists organized trips at discounted prices so Italians could travel to other cities, or the mountains, or the beach, which remains a tradition to this day.

Assumption of the Virgin by Tintoretto (1550)
And then, in 1950, Pope Pius XII made the Assumption of  the Virgin Mary into church dogma, and August 15 became a Holy Day of Obligation -- except in the US, where it isn't one if it falls on a Saturday or a Monday, which it did yesterday, so Catholics in the US did not have to go to mass (did they have to go to work?).

So, the pagan Roman holiday morphed into a sacred Catholic holiday, which some folks claim was actually an even more ancient Roman festival in celebration of the goddess Diana, who, in addition to her hunting skills and ability to talk to the animals, was the virgin goddess of women and childbirth.

I have written about the holiday many, many times before -- in fact, last year, I stuck them all in one post, which you can read here:

Mary Breaks Sound Barrier Zooming to Heaven - Shatters Venice Heatwave


I hope everyone is enjoying their summer!

Ciao from Venezia,
Cat Bauer
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

1 comment:

  1. Europeans are guaranteed by law a minimum of four weeks vacation. Americans are guaranteed by law zero vacation time.

    ReplyDelete

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