by September 17, 2003 0 comments

Everyone loves holidays! Holidays help you relax, catch up with all those things you wanted to do during your work days and get some much needed downtime. And if the holidays fall on days apart from the usual week-end, it is even better. 

So, what’s all this got to do with technology, you might well ask. Well, wouldn’t it be great if you could fill up your calendar with all the holidays that your company allots before hand, so that you don’t plan any official appointments around it? The good news is, yes you can. The bad news is that someone will have to feed in the holiday list for India manually, since the default lists that come with Outlook (up to Outlook XP) do not have Indian holidays listed at all. However the upcoming Outlook 11 does have three main national holidays listed.

To create (or add) holidays to a list, you need to open a file called OUTLOOK.HOL (for Outlook XP and above) or OUTLOOK.TXT (for Outlook 2000 and earlier). This is usually found in the folder where you installed MS Outlook. Open the file in any standard Text Editor to modify it. The format of the file is:

[Country / Religion]

You might also see some holiday entries in the format: 


These are always Islamic holidays and the date format is of the Islamic calendar. All other dates are in the normal calendar in the format

So to add holidays for your company, which is obviously in India, you need to take two steps. First add a few entries to the list of holidays you wish to include. Remember that holidays for each year need to be included explicitly in each line. For instance, to add Independence Day as a holiday for the next three years for India, you will need to add:

Independence Day,2003/8/15
Independence Day,2004/8/15
Independence Day,2005/8/15

Continue to add as many holidays you wish (For instance, Republic day, Gandhi Jayanti, Christmas, Eid, Diwali, Holi, etc.) Once you have compiled your list, remember to update the number of items you have immediately after the country name, like this:

[India] 10

To import these into Outlook, it’s very simple. All you need to do is go to Tools > Options > Calendar Options > Add Holidays and choose India from the list. (Remember to turn off United States, otherwise your calendar will reflect the holidays for both these countries). Once you continue, the holidays are added to your calendar and show up automatically. In case you wish to remove some or all of these holidays, you can select View > Arrange By > Current View > Events. This shows all the holidays and other recurring events you have created. Select and delete the holidays you want. 

This is great if you have only one person to worry about. What if you wish to share this holiday list with all the Outlook users in your network? You can, of course, share your outlook holiday file by asking them to follow the steps to install the holidays in their calendar. However, chances are, that though most people love holidays, all may not make the effort to install the holidays list! So there must be a better way to make this information available to each user on your network.

What better way than using Exchange to sync this holiday list. Unfortunately there is no direct way of doing this from the Outlook holiday file. Instead, at least one person must import the holidays into his Outlook default calendar. Then simply go into the Events view as mentioned earlier and select all the holidays and export them to a public folder. Users can then pull these holiday lists off the public folder as with any other dates.

For a list of holidays for many years around the world, you can visit This site lets you quickly create a comprehensive list of holidays. 

Vinod Unny is a Technology Consultant at Enterprise InfoTech

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