One thing I have never complained about during my time in Chile is the abundance of Catholic holidays. We get plenty of days off down here, and while some of them like independence day or Christmas are celebrated in many countries, some are all thanks to good old Jesús Cristo.
Today, for example, was one of those Catholic holidays I had no clue about before moving to Chile: the Assumption of Mary. Now, I grew up in the church. It wasn’t a Catholic church, but it was still a church. And I was most certainly not aware that people got a day off in honor of Mary’s body going up to heaven. Thank you, Chile!
I will admit to being slightly less impressed by how holidays are done here in Chile. In the US, we tend to move holidays like Presidents’ Day around to fall on a Monday or Friday because three-day weekends are the best. In Chile, it depends on…I don’t even know.
St. Peter and Paul Day is movable, but Assumption of Mary day is not. This means when it falls on a Wednesday, you get a random day off in the middle of the week. Not too shabby, since it breaks things up into two two-day mini-weeks, although it doesn’t allow for travel the way a long weekend would. But when it falls on a Saturday or Sunday? Tough luck, you missed your day off this year.
I would also appreciate a guide to store closings. On the big Catholic holidays, like Christmas and Easter (and, of course, dieciocho), everything’s shut down. On a day like today, however, you’ll usually find big supermarkets and malls open, which is nice for those of us who don’t work at supermarkets or malls and want to run some errands (what? shoe-buying is an important to-do). But there are a couple holidays that seem to fall in between major and minor, and it’s always frustrating to make plans only to find out things are closed.
Of course, this last one may highlight a cultural difference more than anything else: crazy, type-A gringa vs. chilled out, make no plans for your day off chileno. I will let you guess who’s who in my household. But however we choose to celebrate them, Catholic holidays are a welcome break from the daily grind, even – and perhaps especially – if you’re not at all Catholic.