In many countries around the world, May 1 is an official holiday for one reason or another. In Europe, it's the date on which many countries mark Labour Day. Sweden is one of these…and with "May Day" falling on a Tuesday this year, a huge chunk of the workforce (about two-thirds of it if the head-count at my office is representative) has taken today off to create a four-day weekend.
That makes today a "Squeeze Day", so called because it's a regular work day squeezed between a weekend and a public holiday, or because Swedes tend to use it to squeeze another vacation into their schedules.
And because those of us who ARE on the job knew we would be facing a professional ghost town at the office, it appears that nearly everyone (including the head of IT and a couple of the calculator-heads in Finance) decided to wear jeans today. Seriously, most of the people I've seen or talked to around the building look more like they're attending a tailgate party than working at the corporate headquarters of an international company. It's kind of cool, actually, and pretty typical of the relaxed Swedish workplace dress code.
Sweden has another tradition that involves taking care of the really "celebratory elements" of their holidays (read: consumption of mass quantities of alcohol) the night before…though this evening they have an especially good excuse called Walpurgis Night. (Valborgsmässoafton in Swedish.)
This ritual of pagen origin involves lighting huge bonfires to chase away the last vestiges of winter and officially welcome the arrival of spring…and for Swedes, lots of singing. I went to my first Valborg bonfire last year and was duly impressed with the spectacle. I really like the idea of doing something special to mark the changing of the seasons. Plus it's the one form of spirituality that Dr. Darling and I definitely share.
Now if only we could get Mother Nature to cooperate.