Friday is Bridge Day (well, at least one of them)

This Thursday is August 1st, or Swiss National Day.  It’s kind of funny, because we’re used to saying Independence Day in the United States, but Switzerland didn’t have to achieve independence from anyone, so it’s just Swiss National Day.

Today my Slovenian colleague J- asked me if I was taking a bridge on Friday.  Being the smart cookie that I am, I immediately said yes.  Then I thought about it…  how the heck did I know what he meant?  I guess I just picked up the meaning of that word from being in Switzerland.  

There are so many words that I picked up in Switzerland that I never used in the U.S. before.  Words like:

  • “Colleague” instead of “coworker”
  • “Flat” instead of “apartment”
  • “Queue” instead of “line”

I remember when my brother made fun of me of calling my cellphone a “mobile” the first time I visited home after moving to Switzerland.  “MO-bile?!  MO-bile??” he screeched.  “Since when did you start calling a cellphone a MO-bile???”  Yikes.  I didn’t even realize how that word had automatically creeped into my vocabulary.  :O

It’s so weird how your language can just change simply from being in a different surrounding.  In fact, I don’t even say “the U.S.” anymore.  It’s turned into “the States” when I refer to anything from back home.  That’s how folks refer to the good ‘ol U.S. of A. here.

I still refuse to say “Cali” in lieu of “California” though.  That’s just plain weird to me.  I’ll use “Socal”, but not “Cali”.  Perhaps it’s because I know two guys named “Kali”, so it’s just a bit weird to be saying that for my home state.

I guess you could blame it on the Brits for the prevalence of these words creeping into “International English“.  Interestingly enough however, I was recently told that the standard in my company here is actually American English (yay!  LOL).

And now back to the word “bridge”.  Where did that term come from?  I looked it up on Wikipedia and got the following under the entry for Long weekend:

in many nations, when a lone holiday occurs on a Tuesday or a Thursday, the gap between that day and the weekend may also be designated as a holiday, or set to be a movable or floating holiday, or indeed work/school may be avoided by consensus unofficially. This is typically referred to by a phrase involving “bridge” in most languages.

Pretty cool, huh.  Additionally:

Four-day “bridge” weekends are commonplace in non-English speaking countries, but there are only a couple of examples in English-speaking countries

I guess this term doesn’t actually exist in the U.S. because we don’t usually have random holidays that fall on a Tuesday or Thursday.  Usually we’ll get the Monday or Friday off.

But in Switzerland, if the holiday falls on a Tuesday or Thursday, then the next closest day to the weekend is NOT an official day off.  And if the holiday happens to fall on the weekend, then you can kiss that extra day off work goodbye.  There is no additional day off granted during the week.  Sucky, I know.  😦

So according to Wikipedia, it looks like several countries do refer to the gap day in terms of a “bridge”:

  • In some Spanish-speaking countries:  puente (bridge)
  • France:  faire le pont (make the bridge)
  • Italy and Portugal:  ponte (bridge)
  • Germany and Switzerland:  Brückentag (bridge day)
  • Israel:  yom gishur/יום גישור (bridge day)
  • The Netherlands:  brugdag (bridge day)

But some other countries use alternate terminology:

  • Austria:  Fenstertag (window day)
  • Norway:  inneklemte (squeezed in)
  • Sweden:  klämdagar (squeezed in days)
  • Brazil:  imprensado (pressed (in between)) or enforcado (hanged)
  • Indonesia:  Harpitnas (Hari Kejepit Nasional) (lit. National Sandwiched Day)

Interesting stuff.  I love how different–yet somehow similar–it is between all these different cultures.  One of the fascinating things about my Euro-life here.  😉


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