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De Facto Holiday

De facto holidays are unofficial holidays that are celebrated by a significant part of the population without being holidays by law.

A female masquerader at the Trinidad Red Cross 2017 Children’s Carnival in Port of Spain, Trinidad.

©iStockphoto.com/John de la Bastide

What Is A De Facto Holiday?

De facto is Latin and means “in fact” or “in practice.” De facto holidays are not holidays by law, but they are widely observed and celebrated by a significant portion of the population.

In many countries, the day before a public or national holiday is usually considered a de facto holiday. It can be a full-day holiday, as is Midsummer Eve in Finland, or a half-day holiday, such as Twelfth Night in Sweden.

At timeanddate.com, we only report a holiday as a de facto holiday if a majority of employers in a country give the day off to their employees, or if it is common practice for people in a country to take the day off.

Most Offices Are Closed

During a de facto holiday, most workplaces and schools tend to be closed, although essential service employees may have to work regular hours. Stores, restaurants, and public transport may have reduced hours.

Squeeze Days and Long Weekends

In some parts of the world, like in Sweden where it is called klämdag (squeeze day), employers may also give their employees a day off between a public holiday and the weekend. Or employees may take a personal day off between a national holiday and the weekend to enjoy a long weekend.

In the United States, employers may give the day before or after a floating holiday, such as Independence Day, as a day off if they fall on a Tuesday or a Thursday. Most companies also give the day after Thanksgiving, also known as Black Friday, as a day off to their employees.

In Indonesia, where a squeeze day is called a Harpitnas, employees tend to take a day off between a public holiday and a weekend, to enjoy a long weekend. Similarly, Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago is not an official holiday, but most businesses, offices, and schools are closed on the two days.

Legal Bridge Holidays

In other countries, bridge holidays are legally prescribed. In Japan, all holidays that fall between a public holiday and the weekend are public holidays by law. In Colombia, the paid day off for holidays that do not fall on a Monday is moved to the following Monday so that Colombians get to enjoy a long weekend every time a holiday takes place.

In Argentina, the government may grant a few bridge public holidays some years to boost the tourism industry. In other countries, like Taiwan, employers compensate for extra bridge holidays by requiring their employees to work on a later date, usually over a weekend.