Three-Day Weekends: The Myth Exposed!

There is an urban myth alive and well in this country, one that defies all logic and reason. It is the belief that the 3-day weekend creates a shorter workweek. To this there can be only one reply: “Ha!” (shorthand for “ha-ha!”)

In theory, it should be so but practical experience shows it simply isn’t true. There was a time when holidays appeared willy-nilly. They were sprinkled throughout the week like nuts on a sundae, always a welcomed treat. But that was back in the days of free enterprise and self-reliance. Then the government stepped in and decided it had to fix things up. In 1968, Congress (I think it was the US Congress) passed the Uniform Holiday Act. Initially, it was for the creation of a special holiday uniform to be worn by citizens during Federal holidays. But after much debate, several committees and some very thick accents, the bill created three-day weekends instead.

The bill intended to insure three-day weekends for Federal employees by celebrating four national holidays on Mondays – Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day. It was thought that these extended weekends would encourage travel, recreational and cultural activities and stimulate greater industrial and commercial production. So, even though we wail about the fact that “short weeks feel longer” it was never Congress’ intent to shorten weeks, but to lengthen weekends. Not affected were such holidays as Good Friday, Christmas, and Easter, which are protected by the State/Church Separation Act of 1961.

Originally many states did not agree with this decision and continued to celebrate the holidays on their original dates. Eventually they came around on this issue much like they did on such issues as slavery and motorcycles helmets.
The first Veterans Day under the new law was observed with much confusion on October 25, 1971, with different veterans celebrating it on different days. Since then other holidays have been added and included, such as Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Labor Day and maybe New Year’s Eve but I’d have to look that up. Washington’s Birthday was re-designated as President’s Day by a powerful ex-president’s lobby which knew there’d be no other way to get honored by a holiday (Grover Cleveland Day? Yeah, right.). And who thought that adding holidays would be such a problem? When they first included King Day (not to be confused with Three Kings Day, also known as “Little Christmas” or “Mini-Yule.”) The state of Arizona objected and refused to honor it. Can you imagine? Refusing a day off? Wanting to go to work. Man, it takes all kinds.

Now, let’s examine how the actual holiday works: before you get to the holiday, it’s a regular five-day workweek. Nothing much there. Then comes the three day weekend. And you have a good old time. Then comes Tuesday, and it feels like a Monday, that that’s good, you would think, “Hey, it feels like Monday, so come Friday, it’ll feel like Thursday, and I’ll be off!” But it doesn’t work that way. Sure, Tuesday feels like Monday, but then suddenly, Wednesday doesn’t feel like Tuesday. It doesn’t even feel like Wednesday. Wednesday somehow (and scientist can not fully explain this) feels like Thursday. Then Thursday feels like Friday…but you have to go do work the next day, ’cause Friday’s still Friday. Go ahead, ask anyone at the office about four day weeks. They’ll tell you, “Man, they feel longer than regular weeks.”

The problem seems to stem from some bending of the time/space continuum (as seen on multiple episodes of “Star Trek: Voyager”) and the paradox of the real holiday and the federally mandated holiday co-existing simultaneously. Or the staggering amount of 3-day weekend sales commercials that seem to imbrue the holiday with more heft then it can actually contain. Add to that all those futuristic promises back in the sixties of 4-day workweeks in the year 2000 and the problem simply swells.

Anyway, my point, if indeed I had one, was that the Uniformed Holiday Act should be repealed. Let then holidays fall where they may (just make sure that if it falls on Saturday or Sunday, we get off that Friday or Monday. No sense in getting fanatical about it). Wouldn’t you like to be working on a Wednesday and have it suddenly occur to you: “Hey, I’m off tomorrow!” I know I would. Write your representatives and maybe they’ll take care of it whenever they get back in session.

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