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I did some research on the French Republican calendar and found some contradictory information on weekly (or decadian?) holidays.

Wikipedia (and most other articles I found) mention:

The calendar was abolished because having a ten-day working week gave workers less rest (one day off every ten instead of one day off every seven);

In school I learned that Quintidi and Décadi were holidays (so, each 5th day was a holiday). Nevertheless, the argument for less rest is still valid, since there were a lot of additional Christians holidays.

There are also some hits on the web regarding a half holiday solution.

Office, schools, shops and tribunals were required to close on quintidi afternoons, apart from the décadi. So, there was one and a half free days each 10 days, slightly better than a free day each seven-days week.

Does anyone have detailed information about this topic?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I found another hint in Histoire du dimanche: de 1700 à nos jours by Robert Beck page 154 on bottom. See the following google books link.

Le surplus en travail que provoque le rythme décadaire, pourrait également constituer une raison du rejet dont le nouveau temps est la victime. [...] Les instigateur des lois sur l'observation des décadis de l'an VI prennent d'ailleurs en considération cette dimension de la question en accordant un repos supplémentaire l'après midi du quintidi.

English translation (with minor correction of google translator):

The surplus labor that causes the decadal rate, could also be a reason for rejecting the new time which is the victim. [...] The instigator of laws on the observation of décadis of the year VI also take into account this dimension of the issue by providing additional rest on the afternoon of quintidi.

I don't understand the sentence with the victime.

But the message seems to be: People didn't like the new calender, because it was less free time for them. This was remarked by officials and they added an additional half free day on quintidis.

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Being French native speaker I can propose a translation: The excess work imposed by the ten-day rhythm could also be a reason for the rejection the new time was the victim of. [...] The creators of the laws on decadi observance of year VI also accounted for this dimension of the issue by allowing for additional rest on the afternoon of quintidi This matches what I was told in history lessons (which I recall only partially). This makes 1.5 days of rest every 10 days, matching approximatively the 1 every day (in fact, a bit better). –  Jean-Christophe Dubacq Feb 20 '12 at 7:14

Interesting question. The fifth day, or at least its afternoon, was proposed as a holiday for school children, government officials, etc.; but such ordinances were hard to enforce, particularly during a revolution and time of war.

The real question would be about the nature of holidays and days off in the eighteenth century. After all, most people didn't receive a salary, but were paid for what they could make. People possibly preferred to keep working, if they could (and also drink and dance on what was once the Sunday).

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