I am about four weeks into our six-week semester break, and I have to admit that I wish I was going back sooner. Now granted, I will probably remind myself of this thought a month from now, on another bleak, gray, subzero day in a long line of previous gray subzero days, when I’m running late, tired from working all day, and I can’t find one of my gloves, my scarf, or my hat (which all seem to disappear one by one as the winter creeps along), and inside my apartment the radiators are sighing warmly and outside it’s starting to snow. Again. By the time February rolls around in Chicago, all the charm of a snowy day is lost entirely, because the new snow usually just accumulates on top of the scallops of dirty, muddy sludge that have been frozen to the ground since December. On my way out the door, I will most likely slip on a patch of black ice and fall on my butt.
But right now, I’m missing the discipline of the weekly check-ins, the camaraderie of my classmates, just, really, the active involvement in a writing community. I’ve been writing consistently over the break (though not as much as I had hoped—see my earlier post about The Tudors)—but this past month of break has been a fresh reminder to that, in the end, writing is a solitary pursuit. This is a reality that cannot—and should not—be changed when you join an MFA program. But what the MFA can do is make you forget it sometimes. We always write alone, but it doesn’t feel quite so lonely when you’ve got work to turn in to teachers, writing groups to plan with classmates, readings to attend, assignments to talk about, required readings to examine, etc. It’s easier to remember that you’re writing for an audience when you are actually going to hear your work read before an audience the next week in class. It’s a lot easier to gauge whether what you’re doing is any good when you get immediate feedback from people whose opinions you respect.
As I head into my final stretch of graduate school, I begin to wonder (okay, fear) what will happen when I graduate: When it’s up to me to keep up with happenings in the Chicago literary world, to form writer’s groups, to seek feedback and help from people I trust. To keep myself from floating away in the purposeful disconnect between writing and real life (and when you’re floating, that’s usually when you’re doing your best writing!) and remembering my audience.
I’d love to hear from those of you who either have already graduated from an MFA program or who never went through a program and are still able, somehow, to balance all of the above issues. How do you make it work once you’re out of the MFA cocoon?
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MFA Confidential Blog
School holidays (also referred to as vacations, breaks, and recess) are the periods during which schools are closed or no classes are held. The dates and periods of school holidays vary considerably throughout the world, and there is usually some variation even within the same jurisdiction. Governments often legislate on the total number of school days for state schools. The holidays given below apply to primary and secondary education. Teaching sessions (terms or semesters) in tertiary education are usually shorter.
In predominantly Christian countries, the "Christmas holidays" (or "winter break" or "winter recess" in some countries) include both the Christmas and New Year holidays. They normally last for about 2–3 weeks. However, the Christmas holiday in Europe is shorter, sometimes two weeks or slightly less. In the southern hemisphere, Christmas is in the summer holiday period and the break is much longer (six to eight weeks).
In countries with a Christian religious tradition, Easter holiday (in the United States it is sometimes known as Spring Break or Spring Vacation) is a school holiday that takes place in the northern spring, with the date varying by country and level of schooling.
Main article: Summer vacation
In all countries, the longest break in the school year is during summer, lasting between 5 and 14 weeks. In Ireland, Italy, Lithuania and Russia, summer holidays are normally three months, compared to six to eight weeks in Britain, The Netherlands and Germany.
Holidays in the world
In Nigeria, the longest holiday is from Mid July to second week of September for Secondary schools and a shorter duration within same period for tertiary institutions. Holidays are basically determined by schools and it starts from June to Early days in September.
In South Africa, the main holiday usually lasts from early December to early or mid-January (4 or 6 weeks). There is an autumn break of up to 2-week in late March or early April, a longer winter break in late June and early July, and a spring break in late September or early October. 
In Brazil, summer holidays start in early December and end in late January or early February. Winter holidays are generally the entire month of July. Some schools in the tropical north follow a different school year. The Brazilian Carnival is 40 days before Easter Sunday and those dates are not school holidays. Brazilian schools must have at least 200 school days. Some national and Catholic holidays are usually celebrated in 3 or 4 days, like Easter, Corpus Christi and Carnival.
In Canada, the summer holiday includes the months of July and August, with students returning to school in late August or early September. The winter break lasts for two weeks (sometimes a day or two longer), beginning on Saturday and encompassing Christmas Day and New Year's Day. The spring break is one to two weeks long depending on the city or province. Good Friday and Easter may or may not fall within spring break. In Ontario, Canada's largest province, spring break is a four-day-long weekend between Good Friday and Easter Monday.
The school year is divided into semesters. The first semester runs from late February or early March to July. Following a two-week or three-week winter break school resumes and lasts until early or mid December, followed by 10–12 weeks of summer vacations.
In Mexico, school usually ends in the second week of July and resumes the third week of August depending on what scheduling system a school uses, and whether it is high school or college. Christmas holiday is 2 weeks. Also there is the Easter recess which lasts 2 weeks.
Main article: School holidays in the United States
In the United States, there are typically 180 school days in a year (although school years at colleges and universities are often shorter). Private schools tend to have classes for 170 days each year.
- Thanksgiving Holiday or Break – Occurs at the end of November. This holiday usually consists of the week of Thanksgiving – the day before Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving Day, and the day after.. Some areas have the Monday and Tuesday of the Thanksgiving week as regular days and take Wednesday as an early dismissal day; with Thanksgiving and the day after off. Other schools take the whole week off and have an early release on the Friday before break.
- Christmas or Holiday Break – Varies in length per school; usually starts at the third Saturday in December and ends a day or two after New Year's Day (sometimes the first Monday after the New Year's Day), unless New Year's Day falls on a Sunday in which case the first Monday (January 2) is the official holiday and schools may not begin until January 3; the most recent occurrence of this was in the 2016–17 holiday break when January 1, 2017 fell on a Sunday. In the Southern hemisphere Christmas and the New Year are at the beginning of the long summer holiday.
- Martin Luther King Day Break – Martin Luther King Day is always on the third Monday of January each year. Some students have a full or half-day Friday and have the weekend, Martin Luther King day, and sometimes Tuesday off.
- Rodeo Break Rodeo Vacation is the last Thursday and Friday of the month of February and only happens in the city of Tucson, AZ and coincide with the local Rodeo tournaments. * Easter Break – Usually lasts for one or two weeks in March or April (often starting on Lazarus Saturday). Also referred to as Spring Break.
- Columbus Day Break – Columbus Day is always the second Monday in October. Many schools take a week off, though some areas only take Columbus Day itself off. In some states, however, Columbus Day is not observed as a school holiday at all.
- Autumn or Fall Break – Usually lasts for one week in October (in the week of Columbus Day). See Columbus Day above.
- Winter Break – One week in February (usually at or around President's Day) or March (depending on the region).
- Spring Vacation or Break – See Easter Break above.
- Summer Vacation or Break – Lasts for about 12 weeks, starting anywhere from late May to late June, and ending anywhere from late August to the day after Labor Day in early September. This often depends on the region – for example, most schools in the Northeastern United States end in June and start just after Labor Day, while the majority of schools in the Southern U.S. have schools end in May and start again in August.
- Teacher's Day off – Exists in some school districts, being two to three days at any time in school calendar
- Inservice day(s) – Scheduled breaks for teachers to participate in in-season training or discussions, or to attend the state or national conventions held by a teacher's union.
- All federal and state holidays – That includes religious holidays, such as Good Friday; and sometimes Jewish and Islamic holidays, depending on school demographic.
- Severe weather – (e.g. a winter storm or a hurricane) – Usually is one or two days because of such an event, but can last anywhere up to a full week.
Note: Often in Charter Schools breaks are shorter due to the extended number of days students spend in school (200 days vs. 180 days for standard public schools).
Colleges and universities vary widely. Some closely follow the K-12 break schedule, others have the same but longer breaks to accommodate students who live farther away and wish to return home for holidays. Most colleges and universities have the following breaks/holidays:
- Thanksgiving Holiday – End of November (The week of Thanksgiving – 3 days before Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving Day, and the day after – the Friday before the break is considered a half-day).
- Christmas/Holiday Break – mid-December to late January
- Spring Break – a week in March or April (usually starting on Good Friday)
- Summer Break – Early/mid May to between late August and the day after Labor Day in September
- Snow Days (In regions where it snows in winter) – usually a few days up to a full week, and no days to make up.
Most colleges and university years are divided into two semesters. The first starting from day after Labor Day in early September until mid-December, and the second lasting from the end of January until early May. Winter and summer classes could be taken in between the breaks.
Trip Advisor provides a summary of key holidays.
Summer holidays usually last from early July to end of August. The winter holiday usually lasts 1 month, and its time varies depending on the date of the Chinese New Year.
In Hong Kong summer holidays last from mid-July to the end of August. Christmas, Lunar New Year and Easter holidays last usually for one and a half weeks.
In South India, summer vacations start in the last of April to beginning of June.
The Diwali break begins in either October or November, depending on the month Diwali occurs in that year. It lasts for about 1 week. Christmas break starts on last week of December (22nd or 23rd) and ends on first week of January (5th).
Tamil Nadu celebrates Pongal festival(Thai Pongal): It is a four-day festival which according to the Tamil calendar is usually celebrated from January 14 to January 17..
In north India, the typical summer vacation runs from mid May to the end of June, school starting from July 1 usually.
Dusherra break is for usually for 10 days, and dusherra lies in the middle.
Christmas holidays are not usually given, however, some schools combine the Christmas holidays with the winter break. Schools in Uttar Pradesh give a holiday on Charan Singh's birth anniversary, and that's when the winter break starts for some. For some other schools the winter break starts on 28 December, and usually ends on the second weekend of the new year.
Schools are off for two weeks after their academic year ends(contrary to the summer vacations between two academic years in the south.) The new academic year starts on 1 April.
Most of India
There are many public holidays in India, depending on the region. Muslim holidays like Eid are enjoyed throughout the country by students of all religions.
Certain Holidays and mandated across the Nation.
January 26 : Republic Day
August 15 : Independence Day
October 2 : Gandhi Jayanti (Birthday of Mahatma Gandhi )
In Indonesia, there are three main school holidays:
- New school year holiday – known as libur kenaikan kelas (up-grading holiday), usually takes place for 2–3 weeks between late June and early July. Dates are vary, depending on each province/region. The holiday starts from Monday in the first week to Saturday in the last week.
- Mid-term holiday, aims to separate the two semesters. It takes place for two weeks between late December and early January, coinciding with Christmas and New Year holidays. The starting and ending day are just like the new school year holiday.
- Eid al-Fitr holiday (or lebaran holiday), lasts for around two weeks. Date varies according to the Islamic calendar.
- Fasting Holiday / Ramadhan Holiday (or puasa holiday), about 1 month. Date varies according to Islamic Calendar. This break mostly combined with the Eid al-Fitr holiday. Sometimes it can be 2 month holiday. School usually start at the first Monday in the new month. Its even can be up to 3–4 month holiday if new school year holiday (libur kenaikan kelas) happen before or at the month of Ramadhan, But, if Christmas happen after Eid al-Fitr, the school will start in the new year (some province, Maluku, etc.). The school will start at Monday. On the first meeting, student and teacher will say sorry to each other and shake hand each other, known as "Halal Bihalal" it tooks about 3 day, and after Halal Bihalal, parents will receive "rapot" or a reports book show student achievement for 1-year study.
Beside the main holidays, there are many small holidays which takes place for 1–2 days, such as the Independence Day, religious breaks, and Teacher's Day.
In Japan, school holidays take place from late March to early April, from the late July until early September, and over the Christmas and New Year period from December 24 to January 7. Additionally there is a full holiday week in May called "Golden Week."
Summer vacations and winter vacations are usually similar in length, lasting about 1 month each. There is also spring vacation which lasts about 2 weeks. In addition, there are a couple of 3–5 day long holidays per year, including "Chuseok" which is in fall and "Seolnal" which is in late winter.
In Malaysia, there are 2 main semester holiday and an additional of mid-term break and year end holiday. The mid-year holidays last for two weeks, from late May until mid-June, in between the two school terms. The year-end holidays last for six weeks, from mid-November until early January, in between two school years. Each school term has a mid-term break; one week in March for the first semester and one week in the months of August or September (variable) for the second semester.
Schools are closed on national and state public holidays. Schools are allowed to have a few special holidays without replacement for events such as school anniversary and sports day. For festivities such as Hari Raya Puasa, Chinese New Year and Deepavali, schools usually apply for additional holidays to allow longer breaks for students to visit relatives in their hometowns. However, every day missed exceeding the special holiday allowance would be replaced by having classes on weekends.
In the Philippines, summer break starts from the late March to early June, semestral break starts from late October to early November, and Christmas break starts from mid December to early January. Event-based holidays are declared by the President (for national holidays) and the provincial governor or city mayor for local holidays through the Department of Education (DepEd) for Basic Education and Commission on Higher Education (CHED) for Colleges.
In Singapore, there are four school terms. Terms 1 and 2 are referred to as Semester 1, as terms 3 and 4 are referred to as Semester 2. Each term consists of ten school weeks. Term 1 starts the day immediately after New Year's Day. If the first school day is a Thursday or a Friday, it is not counted as a school week. After term 1, there is a break of a week, called the March Holidays. Thereafter, term 2 commences and is followed by a break of four weeks, the June Holidays. It is followed by term 3, after which there will be another break of one week, the September Holidays. Then, term 4 would start, and after it there is the December holidays, which would be either five or six weeks long, depending on whether the first week of the year was counted as a school week. Students are also given days off on public holidays, as well as Children's Day, Youth's Day, Teacher's Day and the day after National Day.
Winter holidays last from late January to early February (2 weeks). Summer holidays last from early June to mid September (14 weeks).
- January 1 – New Year
- April 23 – National Sovereignty and Children's Day
- May 1 – Labour and Solidarity Day
- May 19 – Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day
- August 30 – Victory Day
- October 29 – Republic Day
There are Ramadan Feast (3 days) and Sacrifice Feast (4 days) holidays, but dates of these holidays changing every year because Ramadan & Sacrifice Feasts are calculated according to Muslim calendar. If these feasts are at the middle of the week, then the break becomes a full week break with the Arefe (the day before the feast) day.
In Austria, the summer holidays are usually between early July and early September. There is, with the exception of Vorarlberg and Salzburg, no Autumn break but there a Christmas break (from December 24 until January 6) and an Easter break (lasts for 10 days). The mid-term break in February lasts for a week and the Whitsun break lasts for 4 days including the weekend. There are also free days during religious holidays (Assumption, Ascension, Corpus Christi etc.).
For primary schools, the summer holiday in Belgium starts on July 1 (one or two days earlier if the 1st is a weekend day) and ends on September 1 (2 or 3rd if the 1st is a weekend day). Secondary schools and universities often close about a week earlier, as soon as school results have been processed and published. A week of autumn break is usually scheduled during the week of all-saints, November 1. The winter- or Christmas holiday lasts two weeks and encompasses both Christmas and New Year's Day. The dates for both the one-week spring break and the two-week Easter holiday vary. In catholic regions where carnival is celebrated, spring break usually takes place during the carnival week. To get al balance in school days between spring break and summer holiday, the two weeks of Easter holiday can take place with Easter both at the beginning, the middle or the end of the holiday period. In some cases, when Easter is at the complete end of the holiday, Easter Monday serves as an additional day off.
In Croatia, there are three breaks throughout the school year at public schools.
- Summer break runs from mid-June to early September.
- Winter (Christmas) break starts several days before December 25 and ends after January 6.
- Spring (Easter) break lasts about 10 days.
Other free days include public holidays and local patron saint days.
In the Czech Republic, the summer holidays begin at the end of the school year around June 30 and end at the start of the school year on September 1 or soon thereafter. Then there are autumn holidays: two days plus October 28 (the date of the proclamation of Czechoslovakia). The winter (Christmas) holidays last usually from December 23 to January 2. There is also a one-day half term holiday on January 31. The spring holidays are a week long and may occur in February or March, depending on the region, sometimes they continue with Easter holidays (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Monday). There are also free days such as May 1, May 8 and September 28. The school director is authorised to add up to three more free days during the school year. The school holidays are determined by the Ministry of Schools for each school year and are valid for every basic and high school.
In Denmark the summer holiday lasts 6-7 weeks. Most schools also have one week of winter holiday and one week of autumn holiday, usually in February and October respectively. Finally, the schools are closed from just before Christmas until just after New Year.
In Estonia, summer holidays last for three months from June to August. Christmas holidays last for two weeks, autumn and spring holidays are each one week. In 2016 Estonian Ministry of Education decided to add a new holiday, starting from 2017, to balance the learning weeks. There are going to be 5 holidays: Autumn holiday (21.- 29. October), Winter Holiday (23. December- 7. January), a new holiday (24. February- 4. March), Spring holiday (21. April- 1. May) and Summer holiday (12. June- 31. August). Summer breaks starts 1 week later.
French school holidays are scheduled each year by the Ministry of Education. This can lead to overcrowding in tourist resorts such as the Mediterranean coast and the ski resorts.
To alleviate this problem, the holiday schedules are staggered by dividing the country into three zones. Despite these measures, the synchronized school holiday schedules still cause some crowding effects, as families head to popular holiday locations all at the same time. This can result in price increases and availability problems in some locations during the school holiday periods. Holidays are divided into three separate zones except for the first two holidays: All Saints and the Christmas / New Year.
Main article: French school holidays
In Germany, 75 working days of the year (12 Saturdays) are school-free days. The exact dates are chosen by each of the 16 states, often in consultation with each other for reasons of planning and traffic management. The usual holiday blocks are: New Year (~2 weeks), Easter (~2 weeks), Summer (6 weeks), Autumn (2 weeks). Depending on the state, further holidays can be around Pentecost or in winter between the first and the second half of the school year.
In Greece, there are three breaks throughout the school year at public schools.
- Summer holidays run from June to September. Holidays begin between June 10 and 20, and end around September 11.
- Christmas holidays begin around December 23 and end around January 8 (about 2 weeks).
- Easter holidays last 2 weeks, starting at the weekend before Holy Week, and ending one week after Easter Sunday.
The dates for the start and the end of the school year at both primary and post-primary level are not fixed, but mid-year breaks are standardised. Due to the start of certificate exams, post-primary schools are usually not open for tuition after the Friday before the June public holiday (the first Monday in June) in any year. The school year generally starts in the week in which September 1 falls, with a minimum of 183 teaching days in primary schools but only 167 days in secondary schools.
There are mid-term breaks in October and February, which last one week. There are two-week breaks at Christmas/New Year as well as at Easter. Summer holidays start around the last week of May or the first week of June for secondary schools, or the end of June for primary education, and end around the last week in August or the first week in September. The Junior Certificate and Leaving Certificate exams start on the first Wednesday in June, and last for two and a half weeks, intruding on students' summer holidays.
In Italy, most school holidays are determined by the Ministry of Education, University and Research, and are valid for all public schools of every order and grade. There are summer holidays from mid June up to the second week of September, except for students taking final exams in Middle and Superior schools, as those exams can go on until mid July. Christmas holidays start on December 23 and end on the first or second working day after January 6;the summer holidays in Italy about 12 weeks, other holidays include one week around Easter as well as one day on December 8 (Feast of the Immaculate Conception), two days for October 31 and November 1 (All Saints), the national holidays of April 25 (Liberation day) and June 2 (Republic Day), as well as the Workers' Day (May 1). Locally, school authorities have freedom upon the establishment of the lessons calendar to grant further vacation days on important local festivals (e.g. the local Patron saint day).
In Latvia, summer holidays last for three months from June to August. Christmas holidays last for two weeks, autumn and spring holidays are each one week.
In Lithuania summer holiday for 9th and 11th grade begins few days later than 10th and 12th grade students. This is due to exams for those grades. In the past, upper level Lithuanian student had around 70 days of holiday. However, now the holiday lasts almost three months.
In the Republic of Macedonia, there are two breaks throughout the school year at public schools.
- Summer break usually starts from June 10th, to September 1st.
- Winter (Christmas) break starts after New Year's Eve (January 1st) and ends usually after January 20th.
Other free days include the public holidays and local or School patron days.
In the Netherlands, summer holidays last for six weeks for all Schools. The country is divided in three regions which start their summer holidays one week after another. Summer holidays usually start in mid-July and end in late August. Dutch elementary and high school students also have a one-week autumn holiday in mid October, two weeks of Christmas holidays, usually the last two weeks of December, as well as one week "crocus/spring holidays" in February (for the south during Carnaval), and "May holidays", which last one or two week(s) for high schools and for elementary schools (This may differ from school to school). May holidays span a period of national holidays such as King's Day (former Queen's Day) (April 27), Remembrance of the Dead (May 4) and Liberation Day (May 5) and sometimes include Ascension Day and Pentecost.
In Norway, school holidays vary by region. Generally, the school year starts around the third week of August. Most regions have a week off at the beginning of October (weeks 40 or 41). Christmas holidays start some days before Christmas Eve and end in the first week of January. There is one week of winter vacation in late February (weeks 8 or 9). Easter holiday is from Palm Sunday to Easter Monday or a day or two later, and Summer holidays begin some days before midsummer.
All public schools have the following breaks/holidays:
- November 1 – All Saints Day, 1 day break
- November 11 – Independence Day, 1 day break
- January 6 – the Epiphany, 1 day break
- Christmas Break – Christmas Eve or the weekend before to first day of the school week after New Year's Day
- Winter Break – two weeks in January or February (depending on region)
- Easter Break – Maundy Thursday to the Tuesday after Easter Monday
- May Break – May 1 (Labor Day), May 2 (Polish Flag Day) and May 3 (Constitution of May 3)
- Corpus Christi – four days in May or June (depending on year)
- Summer Break – first Saturday after June 20 to the end of August or early September (first school week day in September unless it falls on a Friday)
Summer holidays run from early-mid June to early-mid September and are around 12 weeks long. Spring break – one to two weeks in early April. Winter break is two weeks long ( it starts in the penultimate week of December and it ends on the second or third Monday of January).
There is a break in early February between the first and the second semester – one week long.
Fall Break (just for the primary school) – one week in late October to early November.
All public schools have the following holidays:
- Winter Break – two weeks in January
- Spring Break – one week in April
- Fall Break – one week in November
- Summer Break – from May 25 to September 1
- February 23 – Men's Day or Defender's Day
- March 8 – International Women's Day
- May 1 – Spring and Labour Day
- May 9 – Victory Day
- November 4 – Day of the National Unity
In Slovakia, summer holidays begin at the end of the school year on June 30 and end at the start of the school year on September 1. The autumn holidays are at the end of October. The winter (Christmas) holidays usually last from December 23 to January 7. There is also a one-day half term holiday on January 31. The spring holidays are a week long and may be in February or March, depending on the region. Next are the Easter holidays (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Monday). There are also free days such as May 1, May 8, September 1, September 15, and November 17. The school director is authorized to add up to three more free days during the school year. The school holidays are determined by the Ministry of Schools and are valid for every basic and high school.
In Slovenia, Summer holidays begin on June 24 (June 25 is National day, which is also a public holiday) and end on September 1. Other holidays are usually one week long, they expand if national holidays fall on the work days. The Autumn holidays ("Krompirjeve počitnice" – "Potato holidays") begin around October 31, which is Reformation day and November 1 which is called "All Saints' Day". The New Year holidays usually start around Christmas and last until January 2. In the middle of February there are winter holidays, which are divided into two parts. In each part there are other parts of Slovenian students who have holidays. The second part of the winter holiday usually ends at the end of February. The shortest holidays are First May holidays, and as their name suggests they begin on around May 1 (usually on April 27, which is Uprising Against the Occupation Day, which is also national holiday) and last until May 2, which is also a national holiday. There are also free days such as February 8 (Slovenian cultural festival – Prešeren Day) and Easter Monday, and other national holidays like August 15 (Feast of the Assumption) fall on school holidays and are more important to adults. Students from the last year of Primary and Secondary schools usually start Summer holidays one week earlier due to the final exams. These holidays are valid for Primary and Secondary schools only and are determined by the Ministry of Schools. University students, however, have summer holidays until October 1 and usually have only one holiday and that is the New Year holiday but it depends on every single college which days will be free for students. For example, in 2015, most university students also had First May holidays. Short holidays usually begin after exams and depend on how good students are at their exams or how many exams they have taken for each term. Most of the time university students have holidays on national holidays.
In Sweden, the school year starts around mid or late August (September 1 at the universities). The week before All Saint's Day (taken as a Saturday around November 2) primary and secondary school students have an autumn holiday. Christmas holiday starts around December 15–16, depending on the day of the week on which Christmas Eve occurs. It usually ends in the second week of January (January 6 is also a public holiday). In the 8th–10th weeks after New Year, primary and secondary school students have one week of winter vacation; the exact week varies by location. Easter public holidays last four days from Friday to Monday. Easter school holidays are either the week preceding Easter or the week immediately following, depending on location. Primary and secondary school summer holidays last about ten weeks, starting in the second week of June.
School holidays in the United Kingdom follow a standard pattern, with a school year of 190 days of teaching, beginning with the Autumn Term, but the exact timing varies between countries and counties. Local authorities set term dates which apply to all Community, Voluntary Controlled, Community Special Schools and Maintained Nursery Schools. Academies, Free schools, Voluntary Aided schools and Foundation schools are able to choose their own dates but many follow the same dates as the Local Authority. Although these schools can set their own term dates, they are still required to open for the same length of time. Independent private schools tend to set longer holidays than state schools.
England and Wales
Summer holidays in State schools are usually between five and seven weeks long, starting in late July and ending in early September. Schools have Christmas and Easter holidays, each usually lasting about two weeks. The school year is split up into three sections: Autumn term (between Summer and Christmas); Spring term (between Christmas and Easter); and Summer term (between Easter and the Summer holiday). Roughly half-way through each term, pupils will get one week off school, known as half-term. Half term often falls the week of Halloween and close to Firework Night (however this has not been the case of late) in the Autumn term, the February half term tends to also fall the week of Valentine's Day, also half term in the Summer term tends to be at the end of May with students returning the first Monday of June.
Independent schools often have longer holidays including up to 10 weeks for Summer, but often have longer school days and sometimes lessons on Saturday mornings.
See School Holidays in England for the impact of school holidays on tourism and life for parents and others.
In Scotland the academic year usually begins in the third week of August. In October, there are one or two weeks off, which is the half-way point between Summer and Christmas holidays. The Christmas holiday usually begins a few days before December 25 and ends a few days after January 5. There is up to a week off half-way through the Spring term and a two-week break for Easter. After Easter is Summer term and the 3rd half term break is the half-way point to the summer holidays. The summer holiday usually begins at the end of June for most pupils in primary 1–7 and secondary years 1–3. Years 4, 5, and 6 have a period of exam leave at the end of May or early June, but may return for the last few weeks before the summer holiday starts.
Schools in Northern Ireland have similar school holidays to those in the Republic of Ireland. Schools in Northern Ireland have shorter mid-term breaks than those in the rest of the UK and, to substitute, a longer summer holiday that includes the whole month of July and August.
Australia and New Zealand
In Australia and New Zealand, academic years for primary and secondary institutions are divided into two semesters, with each semester being further divided into two terms (thus totalling four terms per year). Although historically the year was divided into three terms with an extended Easter break interrupting the first term, the year has been divided into four terms since the late 1980s (with the exception of the Australian state of Tasmania which did not change until 2013).
Following southern hemisphere seasons, the main summer holiday between academic years begins in the latter half of December and ends late January or in the first one or two days of February, and always encompasses Christmas and New Year as well as Australia Day on 26 January. In year 12 (the last year of school), however, students graduate in September (the end of Term 3) and spend their last term (Term 4) sitting their final school exams.
In Australia, typically, Term 1 will last 11 weeks, followed by a 2 week break (encompassing Easter). Term 2 will last for 9 weeks followed by a 2 week break (the winter holidays in June/July time). Then Term 3 will last 10 weeks, followed by a 2 week break (in September/October). Term 4 will typically run for 10 weeks, followed by the 6 week summer holidays before the beginning of Term 1. The exact timing of these holidays varies between jurisdictions, and of course exact dates depend on what day of the week these respective months begin, as (with the exception of the beginning and end of the academic year), terms tend to begin and end with full weeks. Overall, Australian schools tend to have a total of 12 weeks of school holidays over the whole year. However, independent and private schools tend to have shorter terms and longer breaks, usually giving students an extra week in winter (between terms 2 and 3), an extra week in spring (between terms 3 and 4), and an extra week in summer (alternatively, some independent schools have two extra weeks of summer holidays (totalling 8 weeks) instead of an extra week between terms 3 and 4). These extra holidays are made up for as independent and private schools generally have longer school days, which can often total to an extra 5 hours of school each week.
New Zealand celebrates Waitangi Day on 6 February; the summer holidays in New Zealand may or may not extend as far as that day, depending on the year. There is typically a break of two weeks mid-semester (i.e. after Term 1 and after Term 3) and a break of three weeks in the middle of the year, although this can vary between jurisdictions. In the year 2000, due to the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, the state of New South Wales extended the break after Term 3 to three weeks, compensating by reducing the break in the middle of the year to two weeks.
Historically, the Term 1 holidays have been scheduled around Easter, reflecting the three-term system's notion of an extended Easter break within Term 1; although since the mid-1990s this has gradually changed, and now only Queensland and Victoria tie the school holidays closely to Easter; the remainder of Australia and all of New Zealand now have a fixed length to Term 1 which leads to the Easter period falling within Term 1 in some years with an early Easter, such as 2016.
Common practices and effects
Summer holidays for most children are a time to relax, enjoy themselves, and catch up on studies, or to spend time with family or relatives. Many families travel together on school holidays.
School holidays have many effects on a country, ranging from the price of travel and holiday accommodation, which increase as demand increases while children are off school, to a change in crime rate: Example UK crime rate monthly figures. Traffic congestion and heavy passenger loads on public transport on school run routes may be worse on school days during term time. The number of families taking holidays away from urban areas can reduce traffic and use of public transport in cities while loading long-distance highways and means of transport.
In some countries, i.e. Netherlands, where many families travel to their holiday destinations, the start and end dates of school holidays in different regions are staggered to reduce the heavy traffic and pressure on means of transport that would otherwise occur on these dates.