Bank holidays … we all love them. In the UK, we only get eight bank holidays in one year, and at least five of those occur around Christmas time and Easter time! A bank holiday is a British English term for a public holiday. This is an official day that is decided by the government, when banks, shops and offices close for the day (even though it’s a weekday – usually a Monday) and a lot of people have a day off work.
Bank holidays are different in Colombia – firstly, they are called ‘festivos’. There are twenty festivos for the whole country in one year! (In Britain, people get more holiday allowance than Colombians but fewer bank holidays.) There can be even more festivos in Colombia, depending on which region of Colombia you live in. This is because different regions have their own holidays. For example, some regions have a patron saint in their region, so they have an extra festivo to celebrate that saint. Most of the festivos in Colombia exist for religious reasons. The Colombian people are mostly Roman Catholics, and Colombian national festivos usually exist to celebrate a saint that is important to the Catholic Church.
However, there are some days that are national holidays for historical reasons. There is an Independence Day celebration on the 20 July every year. This is called Día de la Independencia in Spanish. This is just like Bastille Day in France on the 14 July, or Independence Day in the United States on the 4 July. Other important festivos in Colombia are: Labour Day (Día del trabajo in Spanish), on the 1 May, and Columbus Day (Día de la Raza in Spanish) on the 12 October. Columbus Day is a historical bank holiday that almost every country on the continent of America celebrates. This includes Colombia, Chile, Peru, Argentina, Mexico and the United States. It is a commemoration of the day that the Italian sailor, Christopher Columbus, first reached land on the continent, in the year 1492. Many people criticise this day and say it is not something to celebrate because of the way Columbus and his teams treated the people that were already living there.
Festivos are very important for Colombian people. They often travel to spend time with their families and it is an extra day on the weekend, to relax and forget about work.
Do you have many national holidays in your country? Which one is your favourite?