A public holiday, national holiday, or legal holiday is a holiday generally established by law and is usually a non-working day during the year.
Sovereign nations and territories observe holidays based on events of significance to their history, such as the National Day. For example, Australians celebrate Australia Day.
They vary by country and may vary by year. With 36 days a year, Nepal is the country with the highest number of public holidays but it observes six working days a week. India ranks second with 21 national holidays, followed by Colombia and the Philippines at 18 each. Likewise, China and Hong Kong enjoy 17 public breaks a year. Some countries (e.g. Cambodia) with a longer, six-day workweek, have more holidays (28) to compensate.
The public holidays are generally days of celebration, like the anniversary of a significant historical event, or can be a religious celebration like Diwali. Holidays can land on a specific day of the year, be tied to a certain day of the week in a certain month or follow other calendar systems like the Lunar Calendar.
The French Journée de solidarité envers les personnes âgées (Day of solidarity with the elderly) is a notable exception. This holiday became a mandatory working day although the French Council of State confirmed it remains a holiday.
A civic holiday, civil holiday or work holiday is a day that is legally recognized and celebrated as a holiday in a particular sovereign state or jurisdictional subdivision of such, e.g., a state or a province. It is usually a day that the legislature, parliament, congress or sovereign has declared by statute, edict or decree as a non-working day when the official arms of government such as the court system are closed. In federal states there may also be different holidays for the constituent states or provinces, as in the United States where holidays that were established by the federal government are called federal holidays. Such days may or may not be counted in calculating the statute of limitations in legal actions and are usually days when non-custodial parents are given alternating visitation or access to their children from a prior marriage or relationship according to a parenting schedule.
The term may also be used to distinguish between days that may be celebrated as secular holidays rather than religious holidays such as the celebration of New Year’s Day on January 1 (Gregorian calendar) and January 14 (Julian Calendar) in certain eastern Orthodox Christian countries such as Russia.
Public holidays and labour law
In some countries, there are national laws that make some or all public holidays paid holidays, and in other countries, there are no such laws, though many firms provide days off as paid or unpaid holidays. In the United States and the United Kingdom, for example, there is no national law requiring that employers pay employees who do not work on public holidays (although the U.S. states of Rhode Island and Massachusetts have paid holiday laws). In New Zealand, a national law sets 11 paid public holidays. If a worker works on a public holiday, they are to be paid 1.5 times their regular rate of pay and be given another alternate day off.
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