This year February 19 had a historic significance attached to it. America celebrated their annual holiday of Presidents Day. This day marks celebration of George Washington’s Day. While America, celebrated birthday of it’s founding father and first President, parts of India predominantly Maharashtra observed holiday to celebrate birthday of founder of Maratha Empire Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj.
If you’ve a Marathi calendar like me, you would see something very interesting. Feb 19 is marked as birthday based on date, and March 4 is marked as birthday based on India calendar (this would change every year depending upon Lunar Cycle). Some people celebrate the festivities on either of these days while some celebrate on both. Lot of these controversies are down due to political compulsions as different political parties celebrate and hold functions that is convenient to them.
Interesting thing is George Washington was not born on Feb 19. He worn born on Feb 22. However, the decision to have official holiday on 3rd Monday of February rather than Feb 22 was due to a law that came in 1968. 5 out of 10 holidays that America has now fall on a Monday giving 5 “long weekends”.
- 3rd Monday of January is celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day (this was established in 1983 by different act)
- 3rd Monday of February is celebrated as President’s Day
- Last Monday in May is celebrated as Memorial Day.
- 1st Monday in September is celebrated as Labor Day.
- 2nd Monday in October is celebrated as Columbus Day.
Remaining holidays New Years Day (Jan 1), Independence Day (July 4), Veterans Day (Nov 11), Thanksgiving Day (4th Thursday of November) and Christmas (25 Dec). America is not the only country in US that decided to have certain holidays on Monday. Japan has similar holidays on Monday. These long weekends give huge boost to tourism. During my stay in US, I like millions of other people used to travel on these long weekends to different places.
In country like India, things are bit more complicated. In our Republic, there are people from different religions. As a result, there are multiple festivals that have resulted in holiday. Parsi’s account for 0.03% of India’s population. But India has official holiday for Parsi New year. Lot of these holidays are driven by Lunar Cycle. As a result, they can fall on any day of the week. Making changes to India laws to celebrate these holidays on Monday to allow long weekends is not going to happen for sure!