Living in Honduras or Guatemala as a foreigner is sometimes hard, mostly fun and never boring. This Blog is about more than just the oddities of my years in the not-so tranquil, cobble-stoned town of Copán Ruinas and, more recently, Antigua Guatemala. Hence Serendipity, the gift of finding without seeking…

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A National Holiday to Fight Off the Hangover



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Yesterday it was eerily quiet in Honduras… Public offices were closed and students found the doors of their schools shut.
Honduras’ national football team had qualified for the World Cup the night before. So president Pepe Lobo declared October 16th a holiday in order to celebrate the victory.

I myself am a great football fan and have, of course, watched all the classification games and yes, I‘ve joined in the celebrations too. However, those celebrations usually last for a just few hours after the game, not all the way through the next day. I mean, one can only drink so much. Not that a day off to nurture the hangover isn’t welcome, but is it really necessary?
As happy as I am that Honduras will go to Brazil next year, I think it’s a bit over the top to declare the day after a victory a national holiday (it wasn’t even a real victory, the game ended in a tie). Would the president have done that in my home country Holland, he’d probably get his butt sued. Imagine: parents, whether working in the public sector or not, all of a sudden have to stay home with their kids because the schools are closed. Scheduled meetings, carefully planned events and long awaited appointments all postponed. And what about the personnel at public hospitals? Fire fighters? The police force?  Public transportation? All off celebrating? Or if at work, will they receive double pay for working on a holiday?

An unexpected holiday in Holland would probably paralyze the economy completely and but a handful of die hard hooligans would appreciate the gesture. But in Honduras it was already half-heartily expected (because the president has done so before), so people almost see it as a right. And as for the impact?  Well, the country seems to be running as normal, without all too much ado, just hop scotching along as it always does. 

I love football, especially the frenzy around important games between national teams. I think that football could actually play a huge role in the development of a country (more about that tomorrow). But I don’t see how a last-minute declaration of a national holiday attributes to much. Except for the actual players, of course, who really deserve their day off.

So the morning of the Day After, I left at 7.30am to teach an art class. And oh, was I happy to see all my students show up, holiday or not!

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