Holidays are special occasions set apart by tradition or by federal law where most standard activities, particularly work or school including church, are either suspended or completely shut down. In general, holidays are meant to let people commemorate or celebrate an occasion or festival of particular religious or cultural importance to the person celebrating it. In some instances, however, holidays serve more utilitarian than aesthetic purposes. In this case, the festive nature of the holiday is secondary to the fact that it allows people to spend time with family and friends.
The list of public holidays in the United Kingdom is a long one, extending all the way back to 1601. The list includes everything from Christmas to Valentine’s Day and New Year’s to Veterans Day. On some occasions, like the public holiday designated as Mother’s Day, there is no legal prerequisite for individuals to be working. This exception, of course, does not extend to children, who may choose to stay home on Mother’s Day in order to be with their children. Holiday pay is usually the best way to earn a living during a holiday, and banks in Britain, Canada and the United States offer a variety of different holiday pay plans, which can be customized to meet the needs of any employee.
Many public holidays in the United Kingdom are linked to religious traditions or observances. In some instances, employers will designate certain days off as “traditions” in order to increase productivity and enhance company goodwill. In other cases, holidays are observed as a time to spread awareness of a particular belief or faith. In Canada, for example, all government departments offer publicly funded programs on Easter, Christmas, Chanukah, Good Friday, and various other traditions and holidays.
In the United Kingdom, many companies give their employees paid time off for religious holidays, in addition to their regularly scheduled holidays. Generally speaking, paid holidays are preferred by employees because they allow them to spend time with the family. The majority of employees do not mind receiving a paid holiday, and many companies choose to have a variation of a paid time off policy, depending on the employer’s preferences. For example, some companies may allow employees to take a paid day off to attend a special event, such as a church function or sporting event.
The United States and Canada each have several different national holidays, including Christmas and Thanksgiving. The majority of states in the U.S. observe some type of major religious holiday, including Christmas, thanksgiving, and Hanukkah. The majority of Canadian provinces observe a wide variety of different holidays, including canoeing holidays, nature days, and even Halloween. In addition, a number of U.S. states and Canadian provinces also choose to observe Thanksgiving as the first day of the new year; this includes October 31st, which falls on a weekend during the U.S. fall calendar.
Historically, the U.S. has always chosen to observe a major religious holiday on the third Sunday of the winter in most cases, such as Christmas. The fourth Sunday of January also falls on this day set aside for this particular religious holiday. Although the days of January seven and eight have always been considered “lent days”, which allow individuals and families to spend time outside on non-business hours, some employers have allowed their employees to take this extra day off, providing that it is not utilized for work purposes. Most U.S. employers still allow their employees to take one of these extra holiday days whenever they wish, but some allow employees to request a break from normal activities, which will usually mean additional pay for the employees. In Canada, however, holidays are generally observed throughout the year, and no employer is permitted to limit an employee’s holiday usage.