Swedish Language Blog

The Swedish holiday is celebrating it’s 75th anniversary Posted by on Aug 23, 2013 in Culture, Living in Sweden

Hasn’t Sweden become well renowned for it’s laws about receiving paid holiday all over the world? Have the rumours become larger than life about exactly how many weeks people in Sweden actually get? This blogpost will try to sort some of these questions out and put Sweden in comparison to other countries in the world. It will also tell you a little bit about the history of the holiday.

This year Sweden celebrates the 75th anniversary of the holiday. When the Swedish society had just transformed from a agricultural society to an industrial one holiday was meant for resting up the body so that you could continue working during the rest of the year. People started getting  paid holiday for the first time ever in 1938, but then it was only two weeks in total a year. It wasn’t before 1978 that people were entitled to five full weeks of paid holiday. From 1938 and onwards a lot of companies bought resort houses for their employees and families to use free of charge.

Nowadays the term holiday is used slightly differently. In the beginning it was a physical rest of the body, now people want to rest their psyche. People use their holiday to change scenery, if you live in the city then you might want to take a trip out to the countryside and vice versa if you live out in the country. Holidays are also very associated with spending money nowadays. Special holidays to warm, cheap resorts or weekends to New York and Paris. Spend, spend, spend.

The number of paid holiday days you are entitled to vary extremely depending on which country you live in. Most of the rich countries in the world have a special number of days for full time employees, some countries even have regulations stating how many of the weeks should be connected. In Sweden and Finland for example employees can demand four weeks of connected holidays. This is also one of the reasons why a lot of society slows to a halt during the summer months in Sweden. Everybody is on holiday.

According to Eurofond (an organization which works with human working conditions within the EU) the nordic countries have statistically more paid holiday days than people in the southern parts of Europe. Any number of factors could contribute to this, a couple of them being; not having the same tradition of collective agreements, the number of paid holiday days might be connected to your position in the company and not be a fundamental right, or that the economic situations of the country are different than Sweden’s.

According to the CEPR (Centre for Economic Policy Research) the US is alone in not having any legalized minimum number of paid holiday days. This does of course not mean that nobody goes on holiday, it just means that in the quite large group of people who are low income earners only half of them get any paid holiday days at all. Japan is also known for only having 10 days of paid holiday a year. Sweden has a minimum of 25 with another extra 9 days of public holidays which fall on normal working weekdays. Surprisingly the top three countries in the world are Germany with in total 40 days. In close second place are Italy and France with a total of 39 days.

Undoubtedly Swedes do have a lot of holiday and since many have grown up with this right they may take this for granted a little too much, considering it in fact isn’t a world wide right at all.

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