Is it time for another holiday yet?

Welcome to 2006The nice thing about living in a country where its multiracial and multicultural qualities are enshrined in official dogma, is that we get a multitude of equally enshrined public holidays. So while many countries in the world at least acknowledge Xmas and New Year’s Day, and typically enjoy what become unofficial week-long festivities, we in Singapore can do them one better this year: we’ve got with Hari Raya Haji just around the corner (9 more days!) and Chinese New Year capping off the last three days of January.

After that, there’s a bit of a drought till we get the confluence of Good Friday (14 April), Labour Day (1 May) and Vesak Day (14 May). National Day (9 August) is the lone solace in the middle of the year, but be patient, young padawans, for another windfall awaits: Deepavali and Hari Raya Puasa are only 3 days apart in October (book your leave plans now), and year’s end brings not only old faithfuls Xmas and New Year’s Day, but also a bonus Hari Raya Haji on 31 December (which falls on a Sunday and therefore entails the compensatory day off on 2 January 2007).

I never full appreciated the bounty of Singapore’s public holidays till I started working, when leave days were precious and any excuse to not be at work was cause for thanksgiving. When I was a teacher, the first thing I did in planning out my teaching schedule was to flag all the public and school holidays (i.e. non-teaching days) for the year. Loud would be the groans if we “lost” a public holiday because it fell during the school vacation, which happened every now and then with festivals that were tracked according to some mystical non-Gregorian calendar, e.g. Deepavali or Hari Raya Haji. On the other hand, teachers didn’t feel the middle-of-the-year dearth of public holidays as badly because there was always the four-week June school vacation and later the one-week September break.

This year, I’m not teaching anymore and I don’t have a permanent new job yet, so for now I only have the public holidays to look forward to as a sure thing — which, with Singapore’s 12 public holidays, ain’t bad at all.

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