Who wouldn’t want to sleep late and enjoy a day off from work or school? A public holiday is a day that allows you this freedom. It’s a day of rest and celebration, where most people are not required to work. Generally, a public holiday is established by law.
Most public holidays are days of celebration or commemoration – a religious festival like Christmas or Diwali or the anniversary of a historically important event like the gaining of independence. Public holidays may vary from country to country. For example, most European countries only have Christian holidays, while more multicultural countries like India and Malaysia celebrate festivals from many religions, which results in these countries having more public holidays. Some popular holidays like New Year and Christmas are public holidays or national holidays in many countries, while some holidays are unique to a country’s history or culture. Most countries in the world also celebrate National Day or Independence Day. For example, Americans celebrate the 4th of July or their Independence Day, while Australians celebrate Australia Day.
Holidays can fall on a specific day of the year (for example, December 25), on a moveable day or a particular day of the week in a particular month, or even follow another calendar system like the Lunar Calendar (for example, the first Sunday after the full moon on the spring equinox). This means some holidays don’t fall on the same date every year. They are determined by various bodies before the start of the year and the printing of calendars.
Some holidays are just not one day-holidays. For example, traditional new year holidays may involve several public holidays to celebrate the same occasion. For the Chinese New Year, employees get three legal holidays in China; similarly, Sri Lankans get two consecutive public holidays to celebrate their traditional new year in April. In some Buddhist countries, the Vesak celebrations (to commemorate Buddha’s birth) also involve two holidays.
Holidays do give you a chance to get away from the stress of regular life, spend quality time with your family and friends, and boost your mental health. However, too many holidays can also have a negative impact on the country’s economy. An excessive number of holidays adversely affect the country’s productivity. Large transactions in a country, especially those related to the banking and financial system, can be held up for days when there are many holidays. Therefore, the government of a country needs to set up a reasonable number of holidays and take necessary steps to avoid any inconvenience caused by them.
Some countries have national laws making all public holidays paid holidays, but not all countries have this law. In such countries, whether employees get paid leave or not might depend entirely on the employers’ decision. In some countries, there are different types of holidays, known as bank holidays and mercantile holidays. Bank and mercantile holidays are holidays when banks, businesses, and other commercial establishments are closed for the day. In some countries, not all public holidays are bank or mercantile holidays. This means some employees have to work during public holidays.
The number of public holidays per year may vary from country to country. In some countries, this number may also vary from region to region. But all countries have at least 5 or 6 public holidays per year. Do you know which countries have the least holidays and which have the most holidays? Well, the countries with the least number of public holidays include Mexico, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada.
This article presents the top countries with the most public holidays (in descending order). Myanmar takes the top place in the list with 32 public holidays, closely followed by Nepal with 30 holidays. Read more to find out which other countries are on this list.
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1 Myanmar – 32 public holidays
Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, is a Buddhist country in Southeast Asia, but it celebrates festivals from different cultures and religions. The total number of public holidays in Myanmar is 32, making it the country with the most public holidays. Did you know that some holidays in Myanmar last more than 5 days? Myanmar New Year Holidays that fall in April is an 8-day holiday, while Thadingyut Holidays, which marks the end of Buddhist Lent, is a 5-day holiday. In addition to these Buddhist holidays, Myanmar also celebrates Islamic holidays like Eid-ul-Adha, Christian holidays like Christmas, and Hindu holidays like Diwali. The main national holidays in Myanmar are Independence Day on January 4 and Resistance Day on March 27. All in all, Myanmar has 32 public holidays per year, which makes it the country with the greatest number of public holidays in the world.
"Myanmar Buddhist Temple" (CC0) via Hippox
2 Nepal – 30 public holidays
Nepal is a South Asian country with a variety of religious and non-religious holidays due to its diverse culture. Maha Shivaratri, Prithvi Jayanti, Majdur Diwas, Bakr-Id, and Buddha Jayanti are some examples. Some holidays can be state-specific or gender-specific. For example, religious holidays like Gai Jatra and Indra Jatra are only celebrated in Kathmandu valley, while Nari Diwas is a non-religious holiday to celebrate women. Meanwhile, the longest holiday in Nepal is Vijaya Dasham, which lasts for more than five days.
Nepal has six working days per week, and Saturday is considered a holiday. Per year, all employees are entitled to 13 paid holidays.
"Nepal" (CC0) via Pxhere
3 Iran – 26 public holidays
Iran is a Middle Eastern country with a complex public holiday system. Since it's an Islamic country, most of its public holidays are based on the important events of the Islamic calendar. It's important to know that this country uses both lunar and solar Hijri calendars, and there are only a few fixed public holidays. Many unofficial holidays are added to the calendar each year, which makes the number of holidays exceed 26.
"Iran mosque" (CC0) via Pxhere
4 Sri Lanka – 25 public holidays
Sri Lanka, a small island just below India, that has 25 public holidays. This high number of holidays is due to its multi-ethnic population. The main religious group in Sri Lanka are Buddhists, and it's known as one of the very few Buddhist countries in the world. Keeping in with the Buddhist tradition, every full moon day is known as a poya day and has a specific significance in the Buddhist history. Each full moon day in Sri Lanka is a public holiday. In addition, it also celebrates main Hindu, Muslim, and Christian holidays, letting the people enjoy 25 public holidays per year. The only non-religious public holidays are Labor Day on May 1 and Sri Lankan Independence Day on February 4. But note that not all these holidays are bank holidays or mercantile holidays.
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5 Malaysia : 23 - 25 public holidays
Malaysia is one of the most developed countries in the world, as well as a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country. The public holidays in Malaysia are a mix of secular holidays celebrating the nation and its history, including traditional holidays of the various ethnic groups that make up the country. Chinese New Year, Vesak, Christmas Day, Ramadan, and Deepavali are a few holidays related to these various nationalities. The most widespread secular holiday is the "Hari Kebangsaan," the National Day.
"Malaysia" (CC0) via Pixabay
6 Bangladesh – 22 public holidays
Bangladesh is one of the highest densely populated countries in the world, with a population of more than 165 million people in an area of 148,460 km2. Like its neighbor India, Bangladesh also celebrates several religious festivals. They celebrate four main Islamic holidays, two Hindu holidays, and one Buddhist and one Christian holiday. Some of the main national holidays include National Mourning Day on August 15 and Language Martyr's Day on February 21. The country has 22 public holidays in total.
"Bangladesh" (CC0) via Pxhere
7 Egypt – 22 public holidays
Egypt is another country with 22 public holidays. However, granting public holidays is quite complex in Egypt. Holidays are a mix of non-secular days and religious days. It's an Islamic country, and the holidays are determined according to the Gregorian calendar as well as the Islamic lunar calendar. Therefore, some holidays are fixed, while the holidays that are determined by the lunar calendar are movable (they can fall on different dates in different years). There are four main Islamic holidays (Eid al-Adha, Eid al-Fitr, Islamic New Year, and Birthday of the Prophet Muhammad) and two Christian holidays.
The Egyptian National Day falls on July 23. The annual celebration of the Egyptian revolution of 1952, which declared the modern republic of Egypt, also falls on this date. The Egyptian calendar also has a newly added public holiday on January 25 to commemorate the public uprisings of 2011.
"Egypt Pyramid" (CC0) via Pixabay
8 Philippines - 22 public holidays
The Republic of the Philippines is an archipelagic country with more than 20 public holidays per year. Some of these holidays include Bonifacio Day, Eid'l Fitr, and Rizal Day. The Philippines' Independence Day falls on June 12.
The Philippines mainly has two types of holidays as specified by the Labor Code of the Philippines: "regular holidays" and "special non-working days." There is a difference in the salary received by employees on these two types of holidays. On regular holidays, employees are entitled to 100% of their daily wage even if they don't work. But on special non-working days, employees do not get any pay if they don't work. In addition, if an employee works on a special non-working day, he or she is entitled to an additional payment of 30% of his/her daily wage.
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9 Cambodia – 21 public holidays
Cambodia is a Buddhist country. Cambodia has many public holidays, including both memorial holidays and religious holidays of Buddhist origin. Some of the memorial holidays include National Day of Remembrance on May 20, Constitution Day on September 24, Queen Mother's Birthday on June 18, and Independence Day on November 9. The Cambodian New Year, which falls on April 13 – 15, is considered to be the most important calendar and involves three days of celebration. The most significant Buddhist festivals are Visakh Bochea (falling in April or May) and Pchum Ben (falling in September or October). The traditional calendar is based on the movement of the moon, but calendar dates are synchronized with the solar year.
"Angkor Wat Cambodia" (CC0) via Pixabay
10 India – 21 public holidays
India, the country with the second-highest population in the world, is a highly diverse land. Indians celebrate a variety of cultural and religious holidays, which are legislated at state or union levels. Indian states and territories have the right to choose holidays based on their culture, religious beliefs, events related to their area, and linguistic preferences.
More than 30 grand festivals are celebrated in major parts of India, along with smaller state festivals. Some of the main Hindu celebrations include Diwali, Holi, and Maha Shiva Rati, while the main Islamic celebrations include Ramadan and Laylat Al-Qadr. In addition, it also celebrates Buddhist holidays like the Buddha Jayanti and Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter. However, it only has three national festivals: Republic Day on January 26, Independence Day on August 15, and Gandhi Jayanti on October 2.
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11 Kazakhstan - 21 public holidays
Kazakhstan, the world's largest landlocked country, also shares an impressive 21 holidays per year. Some of these holidays include Kazakhstan People's Unity Day on May 1, Eastern Orthodox Christmas on January 7, Defender of the Fatherland Day on May 7, and Capital City Day on July 7. Did you know that International Women's Day on March 8 is also a public holiday in Kazakhstan?
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12 Liechtenstein : 20 - 22 public holidays
Have you ever heard of Liechtenstein? It's a small German-speaking country between Switzerland and Austria, known for its scenic beauty and medieval castles. This European country has many public holidays when compared to its neighbors. Most of these holidays are based on Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter. In addition, Liechtenstein also celebrates lesser-known Christian celebrations like Mary's Birth and Whit Monday.
Two public holidays marked on the Liechtenstein calendar have no legal recognition. These are Saint Berchtold's Day and Shrove Tuesday. Hence, the number of public holidays in Liechtenstein is between 20 – 22.
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