Public Holidays in Europe and Georgia

News | FIGHTING CORRUPTION | Publications | Blog Post 4 July 2017

Author: Giorgi Khatiashvili


A draft law prepared by the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory proposes reducing the number of public holidays in Ukraine from 11 to 9. The draft law proposes altogether cancelling public celebration of May 1-2, substituting  March 8 with March 9 (Shevchenko Day),  May 9 with May 8 (day of memory and reconciliation), and the first Monday afterPentecost with the day of the family in September.


Following the announcement of the draft law, a Ukrainian web portal Bird in Flight published statistics on public holidays in Europe and around the world. [1] IDFI decided to look at how Georgia compares to the rest of the world in this regard, especially considering recent debates about adding yet another public holiday.


Europe has on average of 11 public holidays, with Slovakia having the most - 15 and the Netherlands the least - 7. Worldwide, Columbia leads  with most - 18 public holidays.


January 1 is a holiday in every European country. Albania, Montenegro, Romania, and Slovenia have also have January 2 off, while Serbia has January 3 off as well. In Russia, New Year holidays last a whole week. Iceland and Latvia have a holiday on December 31. Russia and Belarus are the only European nations, where neither Good Friday nor the Monday following Easter are holidays. [2] Estonia, Portugal, and Malta have a holiday only on Good Friday, while in Cyprus and Norway Holy Thursday is also a holiday.


May 1 is a holiday in every European country, apart from the Netherlands and Denmark. Labor Day is celebrated by most countries; however, Cyprus, Slovenia, Montenegro, Czech Republic, Serbia, Finland and Ireland celebrate the beginning of Spring. In Russia, the arrival of Spring and Labor Data are celebrated together. March 8 – International Women’s Day is a holiday only in Russia, Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus. Also, Belarus is the only country, where November 7 – the day of October Revolution is an official holiday. Christmas on January 7 is a holiday in Russia, Montenegro, Moldova, Macedonia, Serbia, Ukraine and Belarus. Belarus and Moldova also have December 25 as a holiday. 


The Georgian Labor Code establishes 17 public holidays (including Good Saturday and Easter Sunday):


January 1 and 2 – New Year;


- January 7 – Christmas Day;


- January 19 – Epiphany;


- March 3 – Mother’s Day;


- March 8 – International Women’s Day;


- April 9 – the day of adopting the Act of Restoring Independence of Georgia; the day of national unity, national consent, and commemoration of people who died for the national integrity of Georgia;


- Easter – Good Friday, Good Saturday, Easter Sunday, Easter Monday - All Souls’ Day (transitional dates);


- May 9 – Victory Day over Fascism;


- May 12 – Commemoration Day of St. Andrew the Apostle, Founder of the Apostolic Church of Georgia;


- May 26 – Independence Day of Georgia;


- August 28 – Assumption day of the Virgin (‘Mariamoba’);


- October 14 – ‘Mtskhetoba’ (Holiday of Svetitskhovloba, Robe of Christ);


- November 23 – St. George’s Day.


Relying on the methodology used by the Ukrainian web portal of not counting Easter Saturday and Sunday as day offs, Georgia has 15 public holidays. This means that Georgia together with Slovakia lead with having most public holidays in Europe.


On March 15, 2017, the Education, Science and Culture Committee of the Georgian Parliament supported the initiative to declare August 12 – Day of the Didgori Battle – as yet another public holiday. If this initiative is adopted into law, Georgia will have 16 public holidays, or more than all other countries in Europe.


The Ukrainian web portal also compares the number of religious and civil holidays. From 10 public holidays in Denmark only one is civil; on the contrary, in Russia, out of 12 public holidays only one is religious. Estonia, Malta, Romania, and Portugal have an equal number of religious and civil holidays. Countries were religious holidays exceed civil holidays are: Austria, Greece, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands. On the other hand, in Albania, Slovenia, Serbia, Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine civil holidays outnumber religious ones. In Georgia, 8 out of 15 public holidays are religious. 



[1] The data is not complete, since several European countries, such as UK and Spain, are missing.


[2] Because Easter is always on Sunday, the authors of the data did not include Easter Sunday and the preceding Saturday in public holidays.  

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