Mark your calendar.
We’ve all been doing just that the last several weeks making sure we have all of our appointments, responsibilities and – of course – fun stuff written down so we don’t forget any of it in the new year.
As I opened up one of the several 2019 calendars I purchased – I know, I’m a calendar geek – to do just that, something cool was inside. Unbeknownst to me, this calendar had a page that listed international holidays for this year for 29 countries, excluding the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom, whose special days appear on the calendar’s grid pages.
Here are some interesting things I noticed, some of which made my jaw drop, while others coaxed a laugh or caused me to realize how different many of these cultures are from ours in the United States:
n Move to Japan if you like a lot of holidays. It leads all countries with 19 holidays listed, including Coming of Age Day (which was Jan. 14), Children’s Day (May 5) and Children’s Day Holiday (May 6) (isn’t every day Children’s Day?), Mountain Day and Mountain Day Holiday (Aug. 11 and 12 ... and not to be confused with Mountain Dew Day) and Respect for the Aged Day (Sept. 16 ... I think I’ll show up for that one and see what I can get for free).
n If you work in the banking industry and you want days off, go to Ireland. There are no less than four Bank Holidays (May 6, June 3, Aug. 5 and Oct. 28). And Saint Patrick’s Day is observed on March 17. Imagine that! Also, Saint Stephen’s Day is Dec. 26. I’m all in on that one.
n I think Germany has it right in that the country has two days set aside for Christmas. Christmas is on Dec. 25, white the Second Day of Christmas is Dec. 26. So, then, parents have to get up at the crack of dawn for two straight days to open gifts with their younger children?
n Superman was born in the Glenville neighborbhood of Cleveland, but perhaps he needs to move to Argentina, or at least go there on March 24 for Truth and Justice Day.
n China has something called Tomb-Sweeping Day (April 5). Some day, all of us would appreciate that.
n April 21 is Tiradentes Day in Brazil. The root word appears to be tirade. Just go crazy and let all your anger out.
n The impact of the late Fidel Castro is, not surprisingly, huge in Cuba, with Liberation Day (Jan. 2), Revolution Anniversary Holiday (July 25-27) and War of Independence Anniversary (Oct. 10).
n Likewise, Cuba’s close ally, Russia, has Motherland Defenders’ Day and Motherland Defenders’ Day Holiday a day apart on Feb. 23 and 25. If residents miss the first one, then they had better celebrate the second one – or else.
n Sweden has Midsummer’s Day on June 22. Isn’t that when summer begins?
n Thailand will observe Chulaongkorn Day on Oct. 23. I have no idea what the idea behind it is, but it sounds really cool when you say it.
n In all honesty, South Africa has a holiday I wish we had in this country. It’s called Family Day, and it shares April 22 with Easter Monday. Also, there’s the Day of Goodwill (Dec. 26), which wouldn’t be a bad idea, either. The same can be said for Human Rights Day (March 21).
But whatever the day, whether it’s special or not, work as hard as is necessary to make it so.