Saturday, 5 May 2012

Ponting

It's best, I've learned in the five years we've been here, not to bank on getting too much done in May. And I'm not talking about the weather this time.



Actually, I'm not talking about yoga either ... :-)

May is the month of the ponts. Well, no, let's take a step back first: May is the month of the public holiday. Four of them, to be precise: the Fête du Travail (Labour Day), Victoire 1945 (Victory in Europe Day), Ascension and Lundi de Lundi de Pentecôte. Depending on the date of Easter it usually works out at about one a week. That's not half bad in itself.

But when a public holiday happens to fall on a Thursday or a Tuesday, the French like to faire le pont, or bridge the gap, by taking off Friday or Monday as well. In fact it's become so common to faire le pont that even if the holiday falls on a Wednesday people will be still ponting all over the place. Many small enterprises and commerces - and even schools and public services - shut down altogether on pont days so that you have to keep a weather (oops - sorry. I'm not really obsessed with the weather, honest) eye on the calendar if you've got Things To Do. I made the mistake of not doing that last Monday and found half the places I needed to go closed, and the other half teeming with ponting families determined to spend their buckshee day off in a queue ....

There is a kind of trade off though. When a public holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, so be it. There's no compensatory day as there is, for example, in the UK - so when last Christmas and New Year's Day both fell on Sunday, workers here got no time off at all. And let's face it, who wouldn't prefer time off in May to mid-winter?

Next Monday will be another pont, as will Friday of the following week. So that's three four day weekends, followed by the three day Pentecôte (Ascension) weekend at the end of the month. Now if we could only have some half decent weather ...........

3 comments:

Margaret Lawrenson said...

French public holidays amuse me, because in such a devoutly secular society, no chance is missed to latch on to a Christian festival: Ascension, Whit Monday, All Saints....you name it.

Actually I find Bank Holidays to be an anachronism these days: everywhere crowded with almost the whole country off-duty. Why not add those 10 or so days onto annual leave, to be taken as wanted? You can see I was an employee, not self-employed!

Kalba Meadows said...

True - but what's also true is that the early Christians themselves missed no chance to latch on to the existing pagan festivals and earth days and 'convert' them into their name!

I dislike public holidays for all the reasons that you mention, and have always made a point of staying well put. They were always hell on earth in our resto days too ...

Sharon said...

I'm with you both - just let people take holidays when they want. This Easter my sister in law suggested that, as a convenience, the extended family meet 'somewhere near the M25' on Easter Monday. We declined. Of course if we'd had a nice French aire for a picnic.............