When I lived in Madrid I learned to love the word “puente.” Literally, it means “bridge,” but came to mean so much more, and brought smiles to a lot of faces when it was uttered along with the word “fiesta,” Which means “holiday.” The idea of the puente is that, if a holiday falls during the week, and people would end up with a Tuesday off, but having to work the Monday, the government would “bridge” the holiday to the weekend and give people the Monday off as well. This is the idea of the “puente!” Living in a country with a lot of religious holidays that are specific dates, this worked out a lot. When “El Dia de la Concepcion Inmaculada”(Day of the Immaculate Conception) fell on a Tuesday, we got Monday off. When Columbus Day (celebrated in Spain because he sailed for Spain) fell on a Thursday, we got Friday off. It’s a wonderful concept. But most government don’t do it.
I guess you can say the United States does it TO A POINT. I was always off the day after Thanksgiving, a bridge over a Friday to the weekend. What Americans like to do is ignore the actual date of the holiday and celebrate it on the Monday after the following weekend. So, Americans have quite a few three-day weekends, but very few puentes. In China, not only are puentes not given, but if you get a day or two off during the week, you are expected to come in on the weekend to make up those days. Very often, I decided to have school during some Chinese holidays because I didn’t want my staff to have to come in and work the weekend. It wasn’t “normal” China rules, but it worked for my staff. I also tried to place in a few puentes during our holiday schedule. The May 1st holiday was on a Thursday this year, so I gave the Friday off. It confused the staff because they were unfamiliar with the puente philosophy, but I wasn’t!
So, here I find myself off on a Tuesday. It’s Vesak Day, a Buddhist holiday commemorating the birth and death of one of their major Buddhas. I had to work yesterday, and I’ll have to work the rest of the week. On Labor Day (1 May) I was off, but had to work Friday. I think I would prefer to have the three-day weekend. At least then I could travel somewhere and enjoy the day off. As it is, today I’m going to sit around the apartment, possibly go to the mall (which will be insanely crowded), hang out in the pool. A nice day, but nothing worthy of the term “holiday!” All countries and municipalities need to take a lesson from Spain. Keep your citizens happy with a little extra time off. The occasional puente won’t hurt anyone, and it makes people relax more and enjoy life. These are some great concepts I learned from the Spanish people. Everyone should adopt them to their own lives!