Time to reform Polish public holidays?

As another Polish public holiday passes – the second one in 10 days – I would like to pose the question: “Should the format of Polish public holidays be reformed?”

To begin with, Poland has 12 public holidays per year. This is on a par with many countries and is more than countries such as Ireland (with 9), England (8) and Scotland (9). The days which are noted as public holidays in Poland are (taken from Wikipedia):

Date English Name Official Local Name (Informal Local Name)
January 1 New Year’s Day Nowy Rok (Nowy Rok)
Sunday in Spring (movable) Easter Sunday pierwszy dzień Wielkiej Nocy (Niedziela Wielkanocna)
Monday following Easter Sunday Easter Monday drugi dzień Wielkiej Nocy (Poniedziałek Wielkanocny)
May 1 Labor Day Święto Państwowe (Święto Pracy)
May 3 Constitution Day Święto Narodowe Trzeciego Maja (Święto Konstytucji Trzeciego Maja)
7th Sunday after Easter Pentecost Sunday pierwszy dzień Zielonych Świątek (Zielone Świątki)
9th Thursday after Easter Corpus Christi dzień Bożego Ciała (Boże Ciało)
August 15 Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Wniebowzięcie Najświętszej Maryi Panny
November 1 All Saints’ Day Wszystkich Świętych
November 11 Independence Day Narodowe Święto Niepodległości (Dzień Niepodległości)
December 25 Christmas Day pierwszy dzień Bożego Narodzenia
December 26 Second day of Christmas drugi dzień Bożego Narodzenia


However, what many may not realise is the principle of ‘substitute days’ or transference of holidays when they fall on weekends. This deferment of the public holiday does occur in the UK and Ireland, and it’s understood that 29% of holidays are ‘lost’ by not applying the substitute days. Thus when Poland has 12 public holidays per year and 29% are lost, that means 3.5 holidays lost simply by them being on weekends as opposed to weekdays.

I also feel that the layout of holidays does not always suit, especially when you consider how close some of the holidays are to each other. With the scheduling of some of the holidays, it can seem like they are not designed with people in mind at all. For example, there are holiday days on May 1st and 3rd. They are designed to commemorate Mayday and Constitution day, but also to allow the possibility for May 2nd to be taken as a day off for a three day holiday. However, if May 1st is a Tuesday and then the May the 2nd and 3rd falling on Wednesday and Thursday, does that mean that people work on Monday, have three days off and return on Friday?

Thus I have a few suggestions as to how to improve upon the current system of Polish public holidays:

Sunday Bloody Sunday

The first option, and most simple would be to implement the deferral of public holidays that occur on weekends, so that they would take place on a weekday instead. This alone would return the 3.5 days that would be lost due to holidays being on weekends, as they are at the moment. This would mean having the full 12 days of holidays per year instead of 8.5.

Tell Me Why I Don’t Like Mondays

Another option to consider would be to set up a combined system of current ‘set’ holidays with some flexible days. This currently exists in Ireland where there are 9 public holidays per year. There, they use a combined approach where 4 of the holidays are on fixed dates to allow for national holidays such as St. Patrick’s Day (March 17th) and Christmas. However, there are also 5 movable holidays that always occur on a Monday, but the date of these vary each year. Some dates vary due to religious dates due to the dates of Easter changing per year, but the others are designed to be at certain times of the year to give people an extra holiday during summertime. Thus the first Mondays in May, June and August are always public holidays in Ireland.

Day after day after day after day

The final option would be most radical, where basically a whole new approach could be taken to public holidays, and the thoughts of the public could be taken into account. From the 12 days given as public holidays, perhaps 4 would be maintained as they are, with the final 8 being opened up to suggestion for when they could be set as holidays. Possible suggestions could include:

March 8th – International Women’s Day

April 13th – Day of Remembrance for Katyń victims

September 19th – International Talk Like A Pirate Day

October 13th – International Suit-Up Day

October 16th – Day of Pope John Paul II

December 6th – Mikołajki

However, this idea of course would be the most difficult to set up as it would mean moving the focus away from religious days as public holidays – as I count 8 of the 12 Polish public holidays as originating from Catholic festivals or feast days. To move away from this would require a radical change of mindset which I would see as being difficult to consider. However, I would like if the holiday could be improved upon to space them out better and consider the deferral of weekend public holidays back to the weekdays.

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7 thoughts on “Time to reform Polish public holidays?

  1. scatts says:

    There are substitute days in Poland. I think each company decides which day to give. Used to be if the holiday fell on any weekend day but now only on Saturdays, niestety.

  2. Cosi says:

    I vote for ITLAPD! This would also be an opportunity for the members of Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster to have their own religious holiday in Poland.

  3. siudol says:

    My reform would be to make the first Monday of each month JPII Day. January JPII Day, February JPII Day … etc. In this way we would have 12 days off, perfectly spaced out, and all the religious freaks would be happy. The non-religious wouldn`t complain too much either. I’m yet to meet a person who would complain about Monday off

  4. Piotr says:

    I am not sure if the law has already been passed but from next year on, the substitute day for a holiday that falls on Saturday will be no more. Instead we get a new holiday on January, 6th, Epiphany.

  5. wildphelps says:

    The practice of celebrating holidays on Mondays instead of their fixed days here in the U.S. (for example Martin Luther King, Jr.’s b-day is the 15th of January, but we honor him on the third Monday of January) is due to efficiency experts. Businesses realized that absenteeism was significantly lower when holidays feel on a Monday. The only three holidays that are fixed are Independence Day and Christmas.

    When I taught in Poland, I hated the May 1st and May 3rd holidays – we often had the 2nd off and had to make it up on a Saturday. There is nothing worse than having to go to school on Saturday…

  6. Sylwia says:

    “However, if May 1st is a Tuesday and then the May the 2nd and 3rd falling on Wednesday and Thursday, does that mean that people work on Monday, have three days off and return on Friday?”

    It means that people take Monday, Wednesday and Friday off, and have 9 days long holidays.

  7. paddy says:

    Wouldn’t help, nothin happens on bank holidays here anyway, they’re boring, no shops open, no parades…carnival stuff, not that military borefest… to celebrate independence day, may as well be working :(

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