Saturday, April 11, 2009

Saturday v2

The thing about Easter Weekend is that it’s confusing. Friday is a public holiday, so it feels like a Saturday. That makes Saturday feel like Sunday, followed by an inevitable good feeling when Sunday really arrives, followed by yet another day off.

But this weekend is especially weird because it contains two of New Zealand’s 3½ days on which there's a trading ban (the other day is Christmas Day and the half day is ANZAC Day morning). On those 3½ days, hardly anything can be sold: Cafés and restaurants can open, but shops can’t; video stores can rent videos, but can’t sell anything; hairdressers can do your hair, but can’t sell you shampoo; supermarkets are closed, but neighbourhood dairies (superettes) can open. Weird. Inevitably a few stores will flout the law, facing possible $1,000 fines.

The real result is that those 3½ days are pretty quiet. TV commercials can’t even be broadcast during this time, though broadcasters can—and do—show commercials promoting their own programmes instead, so the effect isn’t as obvious as one would think. Still, I can live with the oddities of the trading bans if it means that on those 3½ days we get a break from hard-selling TV commercials.

For most New Zealanders, there’s little or no religious significance to this weekend. However, it’s also one of the few times during a typical year that some people will attend church services (not counting weddings and funerals); New Zealanders aren’t terribly unique in that regard—it’s true in many English-speaking countries.

So, Easter Weekend is a quiet weekend in New Zealand, one enjoyed mostly as a four-day holiday. I like it, for many reasons.

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