Is it more blessed to give than receive? Don’t we all ponder the two sides of this coin, now and then. Especially where the State is concerned. In 2002 the socialist-party led French parliament voted definitely Amen, when it declared the Monday of Pentecost no longer a plain old holiday, but a ‘Day of Solidarity’. A Work Day, albeit sort of on a voluntary basis and not to the benefit of the employer. Rather, the government scoops up the one-day gain (please don’t ask how that’s calculated) and contributes it to social causes. Primarily, care for the aged.
(Side note: a recent survey shows the French overwhelmingly convinced that the old are ill-served, socially and medically.)
Alsace-Moselle with its strong and somewhat suspect bonds to Catholic Germany, where Pentecost remains a delightful late spring major holiday. dug in as the exception to the new solidarity.
Since 2002 there has been a lot of confusion. And grumbling. And rampant absenteeism. So this year the reigning, more conservative Powers-that-Be decided to further unsimplify matters.
Pentecost Monday has now reverted to holiday status: yay, a day off from work. However, companies now remain obliged to donate one day’s work a year to the less fortunate. Wait… Wait a minute. Is it companies? Or the workers who are now forced to give up a day’s salary? What happened to the element of ‘donation’?
No matter. Already, calculating heads at major firms (e.g. Renault) have found an out– tack seven hours one by one through the year to the work day. That way, no salary-person feels short-changed. After all, once you’ve worked your thirty-five hours a week (the economically debilitating legal limit) you are so exhausted that the thirty-sixth is good only for a downstairs, street-side smoke with the boss.
Note 1 : vehement corrections of fact are welcome.
Note 2: the bas-relief, from Chartres Cathedral, expresses (to me) with exceptional grace the joy of giving and receiving.