A Burgundy diary – 1 May 2020



Of jour fériés and things


Rain at last, not that much, but certainly enough to green the grass and fields, bring depth and full young foliage to the trees, and bounce to the young fruit. If it goes on it will give a boost to the summer farming and to the fields; and rain now must be good for the grapes on the other side of the hills to our east, the Cote d’Or.


It’s a jour férié (bank holiday) today in France. One clear difference between the British and the French is that the French have many more official holidays dates than the British; and, for example, we have no national day, like Bastille Day. Days like Bastille Day I personally don’t like. Flags and things national or nationalistic make me uncomfortable.


Back to number of holidays: the French do not in the end have more holidays, because their holidays lie where they fall. If 14 July is a Saturday or Sunday, that’s tough. You wait till it falls on a Monday, then you get your holiday again. This year is a good example. The French have three holidays in May, all on week-days in 2020. Next year two will be on a Saturday, and the following year all three May jour fériés fall on week-ends, so no May hols in 2022 for the French. By contrast the British (I am assuming it’s the same for the Welsh, the Scottish and the Northern Irish) have two holidays in May, but they move with the week, so always fall on a Monday.


French official holidays in 2020


All French holidays this year are as follows


Jour de l’an 2020 1 janvier 2020 Mercredi
Lundi de Pâques 2020 13 avril 2020 Lundi
Fête du travail 2020 1 mai 2020 Vendredi
Victoire 1945 2020 8 mai 2020 Vendredi
Ascension 2020 21 mai 2020 Jeudi
Lundi de Pentecôte 2020 1 juin 2020 Lundi
Fête Nationale 2020 (Bastille) 14 juillet 2020 Mardi
Assomption 2020 15 août 2020 Samedi
Toussaint 2020 1 novembre 2020 Dimanche
Armistice 2020 11 novembre 2020 Mercredi
Jour de Noël 2020 25 décembre 2020 Vendredi


The only ones the British and French have in common are Christmas, New Year (subject to their not falling on Saturday or Sunday: see below) and Easter Monday. The French do not have Boxing Day (26 December) or Good Friday (Friday before Easter). And for Christmas it’s the normal rule: if it falls on a Saturday or Sunday, that’s tough – raté (missed it this year).


I think the British are adding 8 May this year (75 years from the end of the Second World War). That’s all very well (except for my reservation on nationalist holidays); but what about the massive number of British and Empire (as it was then) people who were involved in a vicious continuing war the Far East. Their war didn’t end till 15 August 1945. My father was fighting all that time in Burma (as it then was) with Sikhs and Gurkhas. He died many years ago (aged 55, probably from the residue of some of the illnesses he got in the Far East). For him, and so many like him – including many soldiers, doctors and nurses from the Indian sub-Continent – there is little yet to celebrate (if it must be celebrated at all). And anyway, once you start celebrating the end of wars, where do you end. Crimea, Waterloo, and all the eighteenth century wars, before you start on earlier? All wars were as nasty in their different ways as the two world wars.


On paper the French have more holidays than the British; but if you net out the holidays which fall on week-ends, I think it comes to about the same over a five or six year period.


David Burrows

1 May 2020

Fête du travail 2020


One thought on “A Burgundy diary – 1 May 2020

  1. Pingback: A Burgundy diary – 19 May 2021 | dbfamilylaw

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