Thursday, June 7, 2012

Much ADO - Corpo de Cristo

ADO = Another Day Off
UFO = Unofficial Four days Off

Unlike the Noid, you can't avoid ADO. Here in Brazil, there is much ADO about nothing. Sure, there was originally a meaning, but to the rest of us it's just another UFO weekend. As I mentioned before, most of the religious holidays are Catholic in origin, although only about 20% of the population use this time for religious practices.

Some Americans actually find it hard to adjust to all of the holidays, the first year here. Everything shuts down, business transactions are paused, and there is no opting out of a day off as many Americans often do back home. I remember the toll it took on my Brazilian friends living in the USA, in only having a precious few 4-day weekends per year. The psychological impact included stress, and added another dimension of depression for many. This issue of lifestyle was one of the deciding factors in my husband's decision to move back home.
For those of you who may not know, the United States is in dire need of some days off. The average full-time employee gets a week off their first year (in addition to the national holidays, and factoring in the generosity of their boss at the end of the year). People with exceptionally good jobs may earn up to two weeks a year, after being at their company for two years or more. However, the average American chooses to forgo the days off in lieu of a check for the dollar amount, while staying abreast of company dealings, and in good graces with the boss.

Americans strive to function at an indispensable level, as the job market isn't promising, and our coworkers are always looking to get ahead. We are overworked and stressed out. While we dream of having a vacation, we know that reality means we get the "mini-vacations" in our minds, glimpses in cut-outs taped to our monitors, and the reassurance that we will never have to walk into work one day, and find out that we are somehow irrelevant, and therefore replaceable.

For the desperate or brave few who do take their vacation time, there is a gnawing fear that drives them to call and check in periodically, to make sure that things are running smoothly – even if they aren't necessarily on the board or in management. The initial panic that sets in the first morning following a return to work, generally extinguishes any sense of calm or relaxation that was achieved on vacation. It's back to the grind, as usual.

Personally, I never took a vacation from a job that I wasn't ready to walk away from, if need be. Call it a defense mechanism, but in order to really unplug, I accepted the fact that I could soon be mobile. Don't get me wrong... I was a loyal, by the book employee, but I was never under the illusion that I couldn't be replaced.

There is a whole different mindset in Brazil, the land of vacation days & holidays. The average full-time worker in Brazil has a month (or more) of vacation days in addition to the unofficial 16+ holidays that are celebrated nationwide. Officially, there are only 8 holidays on the Brazilian calendar. However, should any of these holidays fall on a Tuesday or Thursday, they are automatically recognized as a 4-day holiday weekend ("feriadão") by the majority of the population – including government offices.

On December 26th of last year, the Brazilian Ministry of Planning, Budget, and Management announced the national holidays for 2012. Apparently, 2012 gained two additional officially recognized holidays this year. While these are the proposed dates by the government, they have noted that some are optional ("ponto facultativo") and as such, are denoted with an asterisk. Recognized Brazilian national holidays for the 2012 calendar year are as follows...

January 1st ― Dia Mundial da Paz
(New Year's Day & International Day of Peace)

*February 20th & 21st ― Carnaval

*February 22nd, until 2 p.m. ― Quarta-feira de Cinzas
(Ash Wednesday)

*April 6th ― Paixão de Cristo
(Good Friday)

April 21st ― Tirandentes
(Celebration of the martyr, Joaquim José da Silva Xavier, of the unsuccessful Brazilian revolutionary movement for independence in 1789... Tiradentes [pronounced: "Chee-rdah-dane-chez"] was a pejorative nickname meaning "tooth puller" (he unofficially dabbled in dentistry, among other things) used during his trial, in which the outcome would be a sentence to death by hanging, with the quartering of his body afterward. His body parts were then sent to be displayed around the country to demonstrate the punishment for people who promoted these kinds of ideas.)

May 1st ― Dia Mundial do Trabalho
(Labor Day)

*June 7th ― Corpo de Cristo
(Corpus Christi)

September 7th ― Dia da Pátria aka Dia da Independência do Brasil aka Sete de Setembro
(Independence Day)

October 12th ― Nossa Senhora Aparecida
(Celebration of "Our Lady Who Appeared" the patron saint of Brazil)

*October 28th ― Dia do Servidor Público
(Public Servant's Day)

November 2nd ― Finados
(All Souls' Day)

November 15th ― Proclamação da República
(Proclamation of the Brazilian Republic)

*December 24th ― Véspera de Natal & Dia do Órfão
(Christmas Eve & Orphan's Day)

December 25th ― Natal
(Christmas Day)

*December 31st ― Véspera de Ano-Novo aka Réveillon
(New Year's Eve)

These dates do not reflect all of the religious holidays, like the upcoming June 24th holiday of São João, nor state or municipal holidays. The holidays that are optional are more of an "option" for the employers of the working class, not government offices or business owners, who are guaranteed some R&R.

Feelings on the high numbers of days off per year are mixed. On the one hand, it is a part of the lifestyle here. Recently there has been a surge in the high numbers of reported cases of depression after the holidays are over, and people have to go back to work. Even suggesting that there could be an amendment to the existing work schedule could cause panic. No one wants to end up like their veritably vacationless friends to the North.
On the other hand, people who recognize the impediment to the growth and stabilization of the economy see it as a hindrance to Brazil's economic status in the world. When companies full of employees who are regular lunch customers for the local all-you-can-eat restaurant decide to honor a holiday, that means that the restaurant owner will also skip a day of deliveries from the local food and beverage vendors. The cost is then passed along, throughout the community - unless, of course, that community happens to be a tourist or vacation destination.

There is currently a bill being proposed in Congress to limit the unofficial 4-day weekends to a standard 3-day weekend which would be observed on the Monday prior to, or following a holiday that would fall on an otherwise viable (workable) weekday. The current practice is to "honor" the Monday or Friday that may fall between a holiday (Tuesday or Thursday) & the weekend.

It remains to be seen whether this society is ready to take that step. There are arguments on both sides who could debate endlessly on whether it would be a step forward or a step backward. Either way, there's no sidestepping the issue.

All images found @ the Microsoft Office Clip Art site.


  1. I need to move to Brazil. As a workaholic, more out of need than desire to work all the time, a need a vacation.

    What little time I get off from work, I usually try to cram in another paying job or a whole lot of stuff getting done on my me-do list.

    I work a full time and a part time job just to make ends meet. I quit housesitting because I was so exhausted, plus the economy crashed and most of my clients quit traveling.

    My part time job used to pay for home repairs etc. Now it pays for necessities.

    Due to me being a one girl office, there is no one to fill in for me while I am off, including my boss. If I do not run and pull in the Walmart reports or Safeway reports weekly, I lose the data.

    I have been working for him since 1996 and have only had one, 2 week vacation in which he did not call me or I had to come in to handle an issue. Spent that 2 weeks painting the inside of my house and getting things done as my mom had just moved in with me.

    I stayed tired all the time.

    Like I say, I need to move to Brazil.

  2. Girl, you need a vacation!!!

    People don't realize how much Americans work to keep our country functioning on the level it does. It is the middle class who bears most of the burden, and sees less of the benefits.

    Nowhere is perfect, though I hear Canada has got a pretty good system.


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