Mercer: The most popular holiday days of the globe

29 December 2014

Staying on top of public holiday types and meanings, as well as their statutory requirements can be, in an international businesses setting, complex and vexing. To make things easier, Mercer releases guidelines that covers a broad range of issues in mandatory and private benefit practices, statutory regulations, and employment conditions worldwide, including a review of the national holidays celebrated in 63 countries.

Mercer, a global HR and related financial services consulting firm, each year releases its ‘Mercer's Worldwide Benefit & Employment Guidelines’ (WBEG). One of the many key insights that the report discloses is the legal status of the different public holidays that exist in 63 different countries. According to the research, the most common holiday is New Year, with 60 countries celebrating it as a holiday, yet the statutory requirement can quite different between countries. In Russia there is, since 2012, a mandatory 10 day break from December 30 until January 8, while in Korea the holiday lasts three days and is traditionally used to return home to see family. Behind New Year celebrations come Independence Day/National Constitution Days which are celebrated by 59 countries, Christmas is a holiday in 53 of the countries covered, while Good Friday only makes a holiday appearance in 32.

Countries Celebrating Holiday Days

Military related holidays, in which the passed away are remembered in their service to the nation are held as holidays in 33 of the 63 countries covered, with 59 of the countries having at least one religious holiday.

Religion Based Holiday vs Military Related Holiday

Some holidays are only found in select countries that share cultural or historic ties, for instance Lunar New Year is celebrated by 8 of the 63 countries considered and Carnival is an event in only four.

Chinese New Year vs Carnival

Some holidays only have a place in individual nations, for example, Japan’s “Coming of Age” festival which celebrates those becoming 20 in the previous year, and Malta’s Feast of St. Paul’s Shipwreck, which celebrates the patron saint’s arrival on their shore.

Shipwrecks and More

“As our research shows, there are many different types of holidays celebrated around the world,” says Samantha Polovina, the Principal at Mercer and responsible for the report. “Companies conducting business across borders should have a solid understanding of each market’s statutory requirements and observance dates regarding holidays, as well as the significance and customs surrounding each holiday.”


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