Q: How does Microsoft Office Outlook’s calendar handle holidays? Can I specify other countries’ holidays?

A: I have a client who has several small retail offices in both Canada and the United States. The corporate office, where company-wide administrative functions such as payroll administration are performed, is in Vancouver, BC. Several departments wanted to view both the Canadian and American statutory holidays on their calendars. Outlook makes this task simple.

Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 provides preset holiday calendars for 85 countries and 3 primary religions. The religious holiday sets cover the Islamic, Jewish, and Christian religions. Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 SP2 maintains holidays for 73 countries and the same 3 primary religions.

To add holidays in both Outlook 2007 and Outlook 2003, select Options from the Tools menu. On the Preferences tab, click Calendar Options. Clicking the Add Holidays button opens a window in which you can select countries and religions whose holidays you want to add to your Outlook calendar, as Figure 1 shows. Figure 2 shows Outlook’s calendar view with Canadian and American holidays displayed.

The list of countries and religions are rendered from an editable text file named outlook.hol, which is located in \Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office12\LCID. The LCID is the numeric ID assigned by Microsoft for their list of locales. The English - United States LCID (as opposed to the English - United Kingdom LDID) is 1033. Microsoft lists all LCIDs at http://www.microsoft.com/globaldev/reference/lcid-all.mspx.

A problem I’ve encountered with adding holidays to Outlook 2007’s calendar is that if you select a country that’s already in your calendar, Outlook “reinstalls” the holidays—which actually means that it installs an additional set of holidays for that country. Moreover, Outlook doesn’t provide a simple check box that you can clear to delete this additional set of holidays from your calendar. Instead, you must select Current View, Events from the calendar’s View menu, then manually delete duplicate or unwanted holiday entries from the list.