BUENOS AIRES (AP):Thousands of Argentines began spilling out of the capital last Friday night to make the most of the long weekend, which congress approved just three weeks ago.
Monday's September 24 holiday makes for a total of 19 national paid holidays this year. Only Colombia comes close in Latin America, with 18.
Many other countries don't extend such benefits to all workers nationwide, according to a 62-nation survey published last year by Mercer Human Resources Consulting.
For example, Lebanon has 21 bank holidays, celebrating two Easters and two Good Fridays honouring different religions, but only government and financial-sector workers can count on getting paid for the days off.
In contrast, Argentina legally requires all private employers to provide time off or extra pay during all national holidays.
US HOLIDAYS NOT SURE
The United States has just 10 national holidays, but for many workers even these aren't a sure thing.
The US stands alone among industrial nations in providing no legal guarantees of time off or holiday pay - not even for Christmas or the Fourth of July, said John de Graaf, who runs Take Back Your Time, a group promoting worker protections in the US and Canada.
Cecilia Guidi, a Buenos Aires office worker, had no idea what Argentina's latest holiday is for, but she's enjoying it as much as she can. She drove off with her husband and two small children to spend three nights in a hotel in the beach resort.
Argentina's newest holiday, granted for this bicentennial year only, honours the day in 1812 when revolutionary war hero Manuel Belgrano led his troops to victory against Spanish royalist forces in the Battle of Tucuman.
More importantly for President Cristina Fernandez, it gives her citizens yet another opportunity to leave their homes and spread their pesos around, underpinning the consumer spending that has kept Argentina afloat in rough economic waters.