If we took a holiday
Took some time to celebrate
Just one day out of life
It would be, it would be so nice.
"Holiday" by Madonna
Holidays have been associated with religious festivals since time immemorial. They were moments when workers could put down their tools for a day or two and come together for feasting and dancing. But the concept of a holiday paid for by an employer was unheard of. In the 18th and 19th centuries, holidays were taken by the privileged classes and with the development of the train network and steamer ships, foreign travel became fashionable amongst the elite. However, for the working class, a week’s holiday in foreign climes let alone at home, was still an unobtainable dream.
In 1871 the Bank Holiday Act in the UK gave workers a few days off each year, but this was still a far cry from the concept of giving workers an extended period of time to rest and unwind. In 1910, US President William Howard Taft proposed that every American worker needed two to three months of vacation a year “in order to continue his work next year with the energy and effectiveness that it ought to have.” Unfortunately, it came to nothing as the U.S. legislators didn't agree! Nevertheless, change was on its way. In 1911, in the UK, the trade unions started to campaign for a paid holiday for workers. The campaign was long but government lobbying continued until finally, in 1938, the Holidays with Pay Act was passed giving working class employees the right to one week’s paid holiday each year.
As statutory rights improved, so did the opportunities for making the most of this new time off. The famous UK Butlin’s holiday camps started at around this time. Billy Butlin apparently had a bad experience in his youth when he was not allowed to stay in his holiday accommodation during the day (a common practise at that time). He realised it was even worse for families forced to stay out even in bad weather until they were allowed to return to their bed and breakfast in the evening. It inspired him to create a holiday camp where people could have three meals and free entertainment every day. The concept was so popular that the first camp became fully booked for the season within hours of opening.
Nowadays, most countries around the world have a period of paid holiday. France, the UK, Iceland and Scandinavia appear to have the best deal whilst China and Mexico give their workers a minimum of just one week’s paid annual leave. But it’s better than nothing. So enjoy your summer holiday and give a little thought for those who campaigned all those years ago for our benefit now!
Expressions for the summer
As the temperatures start to soar, it’s a good time to start learning some English expressions connected to the sun and heat! Here are 9 expressions. Choose one you like and try and use it next time you converse in English. You’ll put the sunshine into someone’s day!
To put the sunshine into someone’s day.
Meaning: to make someone happy.
Maria really put the sunshine into our day when she announced that we were all going to get a bonus for our hard work.
To make hay while the sun shines.
Meaning: to act on an opportunity when it arrives – don’t wait.
We’ve got some days off work so let’s make hay while the sun shines and repaint the kitchen.
To be full of hot air.
Meaning: to boast about things, to brag.
My new colleague is so full of hot air. He’s always telling us how great he is at his job.
An Indian summer
Meaning: a period of warm weather in the autumn.
With this Indian summer, we’ve been able to eat outside every lunch time.
Like a cat on a hot tin roof.
Meaning: to be nervous or worried.
Sophie was like a cat on a hot tin roof while she was waiting for her exam results.
If you can’t stand the heat, keep out of the kitchen!
Meaning: don’t persist with a task if the pressure is too much (used as a criticism).
I have no sympathy for the minister. If he can’t stand the heat, he should get out of the kitchen.
In the heat of the moment.
Meaning: To do or say something while temporarily excited or angry, without stopping to think.
Many people have regretted things that they have said in the heat of the moment.
To take the heat off.
Meaning: To remove the pressure.
The deputy’s resignation over the affair has taken the heat off her superior.
The heat is on.
Meaning: The pressure or a period of intense activity has started.
The heat is on to get all the contracts agreed and signed by the end of the month.
Philippa Stacey a fondé Eureka en 2007. Elle vit et enseigne l’anglais aux professionnels en France depuis 1993.