Monday, September 1, 2008

Happy.. Err .. What Day?

Today is Teachers' Day.

When did 1st of Sept become Teachers Day in Singapore? Anyone knows? I was under the impression that it is a day when the whole world remembers and appreciates the contribution of our teachers. Well, kinda like Christmas Day being celebrated on 25th December everywhere.

I have mistaken. The world celebrates Teachers Day on different dates.

Nearby, Teachers' Day is celebrated on May 16 in Malaysia and 25 November in Indonesia. The rest of the world do so on different dates and to some, the choice of date is deliberate. In Taiwan, 28th September is chosen to commemorate the birth of Confucius, believed to be the model master educator in ancient China. That day is treated with much respect where festive celebration known as the Grand Ceremony Dedicated to Confucius (祭孔大典) would take place in temples around the island.

I also realised that Labor Day is not celebrated on 1st May else where. In fact, today is Labor Day in the USA and Canada (1st Monday of September).

There are 11 public holidays in Singapore and some have lobbied for more. It doesn't seem to me that is going to happen soon.

Let's see how we fare in terms of number of public holidays.

UK has less than 10 holidays. That is probably a good start and it makes us feel OK. USA and Canada have about the same number of holidays set by the federal government but on top of that, the individual states or territories have their own holidays. Germany and Korea get 15 days and Japan gets 17 days. Hong Kong get 16 days while China gets 17 days. Moving nearer to home, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei have about 14-15 days.

It is not difficult to see why some feel that we can afford to have a couple more days. I am sure the authorities are mindful that we are a multi-cultural country and everyone wants their cultural festival to be declared a public holiday. They are also mindful that more public holidays may mean higher business costs which could undermine Singapore's competitiveness.

OK, let's say we set aside cultural and religious festivals (it is obvious that one may not get out of such arguments easily) and assume that the government allows us to choose one extra public holiday. What could be the most popular choice? A few came to my mind: Valentine's Day, Mothers Day, Women's Day, Teachers Day or should we create a Pedra Branca Day on 23 May, the day the islet was awarded to Singapore?

OK... I was just feeling bored and dreamy...!

Anyway, before I forget, to all who has, at one time or another, inspire someone to learn...
Happy Teachers' Day !

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