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How peasants in the Middle Ages had more vacation time than we do

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Would you trade our modern conveniences for half a year off work?

There’s one area where the medieval peasant had it better off than we do: his vacation time. According to Lynn Stuart Parramore, a peasant would take anywhere from eight weeks to six months off each year. That’s compared to the American worker’s paltry eight vacation days a year.

How was he able to set the plow down for so much time. According to Parramore:

•The Church enforced mandatory holidays
•Time was taken off for weddings, wakes and births
•A traveling carnival in town meant time off for everyone
•Nobody worked on Sundays
•When there was no farm work to be done, a peasant had no work to do

In our age of round-the-clock availability made possible by technology, when even the idea of a 40-hour work week seems like a quaint joke, one might be forgiven for looking back with envy at our medieval ancestors and their gobs of free time. Is this really progress, we might ask? But then we remember those smells…

Read Parramore’s entire essay here.

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