When I lived in California, I found National Holidays a bit odd. Consumerism and heavy traffic aside, it puzzled me that almost every grocery store and a fair amount of restaurants remain open for business. Working in the service industry for several years, I was not immune to this societal oddity and begging/fighting/blackmailing my coworkers was really the only way to maybe secure a holiday off. This was an issue not because I value "observing" any particular person or event, but because I value time with my family.
While I haven't waitressed for a long time, I still feel weird about this aspect of Holidays. Yes, swinging by Safeway because I need more condensed milk for my pumpkin trifle on Thanksgiving makes my holiday experience more pleasant, but what about the cashier ringing me up?
Anyway, I'm now here, in the Netherlands and that "problem" is not so prevalent.
Today is Monday, April 6th and the Dutchies are on day two of their Easter Celebration (Yes, they get two days: Easter Sunday and Easter Monday) and Dordrecht has been a ghost town. I don't have the stats, but I'd guess 95% of businesses were closed yesterday and 75% operated with very limited hours today. While I'm certainly impressed with the Dutch staying true to form and prioritizing a healthy work/life balance, I can't help but laugh.
I definitely would have gone grocery shopping on Saturday, had I know a country with more than half of the population claiming no religious affiliation would shut down for two days to celebrate Easter!
Do you mind working on Holidays? And how is the work/life balance different in your new country? I'd love to hear your experience.