Every year, Estonia reliably asks itself the question whether or not Easter Monday should be made a public holiday. Opinions differ. While one side emphasizes the importance of family time, the other thinks an additional day off would threaten economic growth.
In most countries Easter Monday is a public holiday. Not so in Estonia, a country where more than 84 percent of residents say that religion plays little to no role in their lives. Though this can be deceptive, as Malta, Portugal, Belarus, Lichtenstein, Monaco, Moldova, Montenegro, San Marino, and Turkey all have their citizens spend Easter Monday working—some of them solidly catholic countries.
President Kersti Kaljulaid’s economic advisor, Heido Vitsur, told ERR that an additional day off added to Easter would certainly affect the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
“There are a little over 200 working days in a year, and one day is exactly half a percent. But in the last year our economy grew just over half a percent, so this would have been all of last year’s growth,” Vitsur commented.
He added that if Estonia’s economic growth stood at 20 percent annually, half a percent would have no meaning whatsoever, but as it was low, such an amount would already have a great impact.
Reform Party MP and economic analyst Maris Lauri is also of the opinion that every working day adds a little bit to Estonia’s GDP. “Every working day costs, just like every hour costs. And when work isn’t done, then there is no production. Very simple.”
Whether or not an additional day off would make sense could be discussed, in Lauri’s opinion. She said she could understand employers as well as those employees who worked shifts or did piecework and would therefore earn less. Then there was the question if this country celebrated christian holidays at all.
“About Friday people used to say that it’s supposed to be a quiet day, where even the grass wouldn’t grow, but I’ve seen that shops and parking lots were full, and that it was all about the next shopping holiday,” Lauri said, adding that there was no meaning to celebrating it to anyone beyond running to the mall and going shopping.
Chairwoman of the Center Party’s parliamentary group in the Riigikogu, Kersti Sarapuu, told ERR’s radio news that they would like to see one additional day off introduced for every public holiday falling on a Sunday, and that they would also like to see Easter Monday as a day off.
Sarapuu explains this position mainly by pointing to people’s need to spend time with their families, and the general need to spend time away from work.
“It isn’t a secret that people drive out of the city or somewhere farther away,” Sarapuu said. “If there is no day off, they need to come back sooner, and there is less time to spend together.”
A parliamentary proposal is currently put on hold, and will be on the table again in May, according to Sarapuu. In this time the Ministry of Justice will prepare its own position in the matter on how an additional holiday would affect the budget and employees.
Editor: Dario Cavegn