The Italian economy is so entrenched in debt, that ministers are considering a radical plan to scrap some of the public holidays in the country.
The move has been suggested as a result of a worsening financial crisis in the country, with debt now standing at more than £1 trillion, with household spending and exports both down, whilst the GDP is expected to fall by at least 2%.
Italy currently has 11 public holidays spread over the year, the same as the UK, but unlike Britain, the date is fixed, which means it can often fall mid-week. When this happens, workers frequently take off several days either side, to make a long weekend.
Economists have calculated that reducing the number of public holidays could boost GDP by as much as 1% and Italian prime minister, Mario Monti, is believed to be actively considering the move, due to be discussed next week.
If given the thumbs up, Italy will axe Boxing Day as a public holiday, as well as getting rid of two military festivals, an idea which has sparked an outcry in the Catholic Church, as well as veteran’s groups.
Ministers have promised that the main holidays, such as Easter and Christmas, will not be changed, but peripheral celebrations, such as Epiphany and the Immaculate Conception, should be axed. To try and appease those who are opposing the suggestion, the Finance Ministry in Italy is suggesting that the public holidays remain, but are moved to the nearest Sunday, leaving the primary working week unaffected.
The previous prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, is also believed to have considered the move but scrapped it in the early stages, when the strength of public opposition became apparent. Current prime minister, Mario Monti, is believed to be far more determined to push the idea through.