My fellow blogger over at Verbomania (worth following!) posted a piece on the word Romjul. In case you haven’t read the post, Romjul is the Norwegian word for the period between Christmas and New Year’s Day. It’s kind of a liminal period. Not really holiday and not really not holiday, in northern climes it’s often cold and dark and you don’t feel like getting out to do much. In many reasonable parts of the world it’s a given that this should be time off from work. With all the preparation that goes into Christmas and the standard convention of starting the New Year with a freebie, and the fact that the days of the week for the holidays are movable, it just makes sense. In these developed States, holidays are left to employers. Mine granted two days off: Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. What are your choices when they fall on Wednesday?
Romjul gave me a good feeling. I cashed in a vacation day or two to take some time off. The years when I’ve worked between the holidays I’ve found nobody in their offices or answering email, and that led to long hours of waiting for the work day to end so that I could actually do something productive. In America we love our work. At least employers love our work. I talked to a young man who had to cut his holiday short to be into work on Monday, December 29. He’d just returned from an international trip, but his employer insisted he be there. There was no work he could do because his colleague whose input he needed had taken that day off. Work is like that.
I recalled a snow day when I had to commute daily to New York City. New Jersey Transit got me as far as Newark but the trains were shut down from there. I had to take a PATH train that took me close to my Midtown location. It was running late. A woman was panicking about not being on time. A wise, older gentleman said, “Employers just want you to show up. They’re not looking for a full, productive day of work. They just want you to come in.” I believe he was right. Employers like to make their puppets jump, no matter if there’s anybody there to watch the show. In a civilized world, as in much of Europe, we would celebrate Romjul. If not for religious reasons, then for simple humanitarian ones. In late December we can all use a week off.