Makeover Monday, week 44 2017: Mapped: the countries that have the most bank holidays

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We are getting closer to the holiday season and I stumbled across an article that visualized global public holidays on a map. Andy and I will, together with our friends from Mapbox, run a webinar about everything to do with using maps in dataviz, so I was quite keen to have more datasets leading up to that webinar which contained geographical information.

So with the public holiday viz decided on, I spent 3 hours getting the data (Andy since told me he found the data for the viz, but it’s a bit too late – sorry everyone 😦 ) by doing a lot of copying and pasting.

I was quite excited about a dataset that contained pretty much every country on the planet. The data itself isn’t great because each country seems to have its own classifications for public holidays. This means comparing many countries at once requires selecting a whole lot of different types of public holidays. I wish this was easier, but it is what it is and data is almost never perfect, so we’re simply practicing real-life scenarios here :-).

Let’s look at the original viz:


What I like about it:

  • Maps are intuitive for people generally and thanks to various online map services, most people are comfortable interacting with digital maps (zooming, moving around etc)
  • It gives me the freedom to focus on the areas I want
  • Large regional labels help those who didn’t pay attention in geography class


What I don’t like about it:

  • The colours are not explained anywhere. Sure, I understand that a darker colour means a larger number of public holidays in this context, but someone without a data or dataviz background may not find that so easy to see and they may not simply want to make that assumption
  • There are many countries missing. How can we answer the question ‘which countries have the most public holidays?’ which is literally right on top of the map, when we don’t include all the countries globally? Or at least all the countries of a single region?
  • Bank holidays. The title of the article talks about bank holidays and I have an issue with that :-). I know that it is a common term to describe public holidays, but having lived in Australia and worked for a bank it has a different and additional meaning there. In NSW there is an actual bank holiday which is in early August and applies to banks and financial institutions. So yes, bank and insurance workers get a day off. Which is why I prefer the term ‘public holiday’
  • The colours to me don’t quite match the sentiment of the article. In the article the author talks about ‘work/life balance envy’ in relation to the number of public holidays other countries have compared to the UK. So if more public holidays are a good thing, why choose red as the colour for that end of the continuum?


What I did:

  • Trying to find something interesting in the data in a short amount of time (I’m on holiday ironically enough) wasn’t very easy until I decided to look into the ‘seasonal’ holiday type
  • I did check out religious holidays but figured I didn’t want to go there, so I focused on solstices and equinoxes.
  • No matter what country, we all seem to agree with science and astronomy, so that was my angle.
  • If you get the feeling that I didn’t quite feel like building this viz, you’re not completely wrong. The past few weeks have been very busy and I won’t lie: sometimes MM gets in the way of a perfectly screen-free weekend or, as is currently the case, some time spent baking cookies with my nephews. So forgive me while I go back to the kitchen to get myself covered in flour and have kids wipe their dirty hands on my jeans while creating cookies no-one actually wants to east later hahaha 🙂




  1. Hey, I am trying to create the square matrix by dividing it into columns and rows as you have done above but I’m stuck at a problem. There are no values for some row-column combinations and I don’t want them to show up. Basically my rows are General Managers and columns are Team Managers. The squares are employees under the GM-TM combination. All GMs have different TMs. Tableau shows up all GM-TM combinations which do not exist and hence, I get empty matrix in there.
    I tried to create a hierarchy by putting employees under TMs and then TMs under GM but that didn’t work. Can you help?



      1. There are a lot of people who answer such questions on blogs too. I thought you might but anyways I’ll go to the forum.


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