Not long ago, I was on a plane with an acquaintance and he was discussing his recent trip to Italy. He said every afternoon, around 2 p.m., businesses, people, entire families would go to their homes to “rest.” He and his companions struggled with this concept and, instead of relaxing, would find an open drinking establishments and have a couple cocktails.
His story made me think about the United States' upcoming holiday, Labor Day. It seems a bit off balance that Italy takes a break from their labor every day for a couple of hours and we only officially recognize our hard work one day out of the year.
The name of the holiday “Labor Day” gives you some insight to what we are celebrating. The day is an observance of the achievements and advancements made by American workers that have contributed to the prosperity of the United States. We celebrate these contributions by taking a day off of work.
This makes sense. “You have worked very hard and as a reward, you get some time off.”
However, it occurred to me that a single day off seems menial. So, I sought out information about American’s time off compared to other countries.
According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States ranks number 16 out of 36 countries studied for average number of hours worked per year. That’s not too bad. Pretty close to the middle.
Countries that work more than us are: Mexico, South Korea, Iceland, Israel, and Ireland among others. We also enjoy six national holidays that all 50 states observe: New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Veteran's Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. 45 states observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day as well. Here’s another thing that came on my radar as I was doing research on American workers; according to The Wall Street Journal, 658 million vacation days went unused in 2015. 222 million of those were forfeited because they didn’t roll over.
You earned those vacation days. You deserve time to reset, reflect, and be with loved ones. So, here is my challenge to you this Labor Day. Instead of thinking “Great, last three day weekend until Thanksgiving,” enjoy the three day weekend, be grateful you don’t live in one of the 15 countries that have a higher average work year than us, and for the love of Pete, plan a three day weekend with one of your vacation days between now and Thanksgiving!We would love to see your best Labor Day relaxation photos or hear your stories. Post pics on our Facebook page or Tweet @KippoShorts.