The origin of…Vacation

“A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you’ve been taking.”                      Earl Wilson

Post 33 Vacation

In the past, vacations were only for the wealthy that would move to a summer home part of the year.
France was the first country to introduce paid vacation. This happened in 1936 when labor minister Jean-Baptiste Lebas provided two weeks of paid vacation each year. This gradually became five weeks a year and is now 30 days a year.

In the United States it was President Taft who in 1910 President Taft suggested that every American worker needed a good 2-3 months of vacation a year “in order to continue his work next year with the energy and effectiveness which it ought to have.” This didn´t happen in the US, but in other countries, like Sweden and France where employees have on average 7 weeks of paid vacation (in Sweden people have 25 paid vacation days plus 16 national holidays and in France these numbers are 30 and 8). Nowadays, there are laws in the European Union that mandate that employees get at least 20 paid vacation days per year (apart from national holidays). Although in the US no such law exists (making it the only industrialized country to not mandate a paid vacation) and 25% of all employees receive no paid vacation time at all, on average people get 6 to 8 days apart from 11 national holidays. Senator Alan Grayson (Democrat) introduced the Paid Vacation Act in 2009 that would require employers with 100 employees to provide one week of paid vacation after an employee is employed for one year, but it never passed.

According to several studies people in some Asian countries get more vacation days than they take. In Japan people have 18 days yearly but take only 7. In South Korea a similar trend appears where people get 10 days but also take 7. It is the work culture in these countries where companies don´t encourage their workers to take time off and pressure to keep on working is high.
Not so in southern Europe (and France where they take all 30 days) where it is still very common that everybody takes their annual leave in August, so during this whole month all offices are virtually deserted and the beaches packed.

1. a period of time that a person spends away from home, school, or business usually in order to relax or travel
2. the number of days or hours per year for which an employer agrees to pay workers while they are not working
3. a time when schools, colleges, and universities are closed (source: Merriam Webster).

The English vacation comes from Old French vacacion, vacancy/vacant position, from Latin vacatio, leisure/freedom/exemption/privilege.

Dutch vakantie, Spanish vacaciones and Italian vacanze all have the same origins.

Vacation in other languages:
Dutch: vakantie
Spanish: las vacaciones
Italian: le vacanze


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