Revenge o’ the bagpipes (aka the gentle art of DabbleDB)

They say revenge is a dish best served cold. The thought did cross my mind when my neighbour threatened to call the police to stop us playing the bagpipes and doing the highland fling in our garden ON BURNS NIGHT.

So large was the umbrage taken at this impertinence, that I determined to see fit that my neighbour should never sleep peacefully in her bed again. Fuelled by good measures of scotch, I set off around the web to find out whether it would be possible to find a different country’s national festival every day and serenade the offender with the respective national instrument.

After finding relevant wikipedia entries listing national holidays and national instruments, it dawned on me that there only being 190-or so countries in the world, it was impossible to satisfy my uniqueness criteria and so, after pondering whether I should reduce the frequency of the events to just the weekends, gave up.

Next morning, walking through the whisky-stained house, I couldn’t get this idea out of my head. It occured to me that even if I couldn’t get a different country’s instrument every day, the exercise of trying to find out what I could manage would be interesting in itself.

To cut a long story, full of diversions and mashups, short, I have distilled, for your pleasure, some pretty interesting facts about countries and their national holidays.

  • I discovered that even with all the countries in the world and a pretty loose definition of a national holiday (e.g. Talk Like a Pirate Day…), there are 3 days in 2008 without a holiday for anyone:
    • January 23rd
    • February 13th
    • April 10th
  • The busiest day of the year is January 1st, when 222 nations are kicking-back. May 1st comes in a strong 2nd, with 211 nations celebrating that; Christmas Day (or Dec 25th) is a woeful 3rd, with only 182 nations enjoying that one.
  • Despite the claims of the United Nations or the U.S. Department of State (who recognise 192 and 193 countries around the world, respectively), I found national holidays in no less than 234 different “countries”.
  • Europe is the continent to be in if you like spending the day in your dressing gown, boasting no less than 848 holidays. Africa is the surprise contender, with a figure of 622; the US clocks up (or clocks off) a total of 600.
  • If you’re more inclined to stay in one country than tour a continent, the United States is the place to be, giving you 318 excuses to get cultural. The closest competitors are Peru (64) and Spain (57), but with holidays like “Skyscraper Day“, it’s no surprise that the US leads the way in national downtime.
  • At the other end of the scale, the residents of Bhutan get a meagre 2 holidays a year. And we complain about not getting enough Bank Holidays in the UK…

If you want any more factiods, ask in the comments and I’ll try and post the answers here…

Better still, if you want to explore this data for yourself, I’ve made a DabbleDB site with various views: Who’s celebrating today?
Who's celebrating today? - DabbleDB site

I also made a Netvibes widget that sucks the RSS feed of where to go in the world if you want to take the day off:

Conclusion: I’m pretty damn impressed with DabbleDB. What started as a booze-fuelled revenge campaign has enlightened me to DabbleDB’s increasing maturity. I want to be able to say that it could work as an end-user operated backend to an online business, but it’s not quite there yet.

Finally, I have to credit, from whom I scraped the holiday information.

Update: this information and more is now available for your pleasure at


  1. Posted February 7, 2008 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

    Wow, that made for an interesting read – nice reporting!

    However, you left out one important detail: How long did it take you to compile this list?

  2. Posted February 8, 2008 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    Jon they’re obviously not giving you enough to do at Osmosoft if this is what you’re up to 🙂
    I was actually sad enough to do similar research once (for a work project tho). It’s interesting that quite a few countries don’t even have a concept of a weekend.

  3. Posted February 8, 2008 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    FND: I built a little screenscraper in TiddlyWiki after trying and failing to do one in Dapper (they did fix it for me later). That put the information into a format I could copy & paste into DabbleDB. Total time for that maybe 4 hours. Total time for playing with the data = ages, ‘cos it’s fun.

  4. Posted February 8, 2008 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    That’s genius! And yeah, let’s definitely take another look at your workload :-p.

  5. AC
    Posted February 8, 2008 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    > let’s definitely take another look at your workload


  6. Posted February 8, 2008 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    I am gonna go out on a limb here and guess that those 3 days are when yo u’ll actually be doing some work jon? Right.

    Why “Africa, surprisingly”? It’s a massive continent with a gazillion countries, ‘d have expected them to top your list

  7. Posted February 8, 2008 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    io2: You’ve got a good point… I guess I expected the US to be up there because of all those “serious” holidays like National Boy Scout Day, or Something On a Stick Day.