It’s said that Swedes have an enviable work life balance and this festive season has been no exception.
Similar to many countries, Christmas and New Year are both bank holidays in Sweden. Similar to a few countries, today – 6 January – is also a bank holiday. In Sweden it’s called ‘Trettondag jul’ which translates as ’13th day of Christmas’. In other places, it’s known as Kings’ day, Day of the three magi, or epiphany.
Biblically it signifies the arrival of the three wise men and the baptism of Jesus. Secularly, it means another day off for most people.
In Sweden, it is the official end of the Christmas season, although the Christmas tree and decorations might stay up for a little longer.
This festive season has been a great opportunity for time off. By taking only 6 days’ holiday, workers have been able to be off for two and a half weeks.
A strong belief in work life balance is behind this. In general, Swedes work really hard and are dedicated. Coupled with the darkness at this time of the year, many people are exhausted by the time Christmas comes around. A long break is seen as a necessary way to recharge batteries, and regain motivation.
There’s a great Swedish word that you frequently hear after these long breaks – a person might describe themselves as ‘utvilad‘. This translates as ‘thoroughly rested’, and is essential to survive the long, dark winter season.