In English, this can be translated as either “No work today!” or “No school today!” But whether you’re a student or an employee, it’s just about guaranteed to incite the same feelings: excitement, relief, and perhaps even an irresistible urge to pull up Skyscanner and AirBnB on your mobile device.
Public holidays are like junk food, in a way. They can make you feel really good for a short while, but they’re not always beneficial in the long run. That’s not just for entrepreneurs, either. (Though I admit my food cart’s dismal sales during last year’s APEC weekend was especially disheartening.) Here’s how public holidays can actually shortchange us as individuals and as a country:
1. You tend to spend more.
Did you ever notice how the social media pages of travel agencies or online retailers tend to be especially active shortly before a long weekend?
We all tend to let our guard down when we’re on vacation. It’s supposed to be fun, right? Thus, we end up indulging ourselves by eating out, going shopping, or even venturing out of town to go to the beach or the mountains. There’s nothing wrong with that, per se, but it can snowball into a dangerous habit if we’re not careful, or if we convince ourselves that we have to “make the most out of every long weekend or day off.
Also, some people can’t afford to treat themselves in that way, but they might feel pressured to by friends and family, and this is how a lot of people end up in debt over frivolous expenses. (Like that one friend who owes you money but somehow manages to fly to Boracay for Labor Day weekend, with an eye-watering IG feed to show for it.)
2. Holidays can slow down the economy.
Government offices and financial institutions are almost always closed during public holidays, so all sorts of applications and transactions come to a screeching halt on those days.
Now, this isn’t so bad if the holiday only lasts for one day, but if it stretches out into a five-day weekend (which is what happened during last year’s APEC Summit), the delay can be quite disruptive for the economy. Imagine having to wait for nearly a week to buy or sell your stocks, renew your passport, or check your financial statement.
In addition to this, prolonged holidays can bring large transactions to a standstill, making it harder for the country to catch up with global markets once operations resume.
3. Both employees and employers lose out.
Public holidays are great for the gainfully-employed. You don’t have to come in to work, and you still get paid.
On the other hand, having no work for the day can be a major source of anxiety if you are paid a daily wage. Unless you somehow have other income streams (which is unlikely for most daily laborers), successive public holidays can make it especially hard to make ends meet.
It’s not much better for business owners either. Thanks to overhead expenses like rent, for instance, they lose productivity on an otherwise normal day, but still end up having to pay for it. Plus, while public holidays might bring in more customers, they also entail double or overtime pay for workers who report for duty on that day.
Just to be clear, there’s nothing wrong with taking a well-deserved break. Occasionally stepping away from the daily grind prevents you from burning yourself out and can even make you more productive and inspired too.
However, we should also ensure that all those holidays and long weekends shouldn’t be spaced too closely together. Unemployment, after all, can be considered a permanent vacation, but there’s a reason why we don’t aspire to it, right?