Friday, March 21, 2008

Opinion: Religious Holidays in our 'Secular' Society

So, today is a statutory holiday here in Canada. It is due to the Christian holiday Good Friday which is part of Christian (although Christian Orthodox is later) celebrations for Easter the day when supposedly the day Jesus rose from the dead. Although, I could go on a long tirade about how the story of Jesus was stolen from previous gods, or that the holiday Easter is just taken from a Pagan fertility goddess whose symbols were the egg and rabbit, I would rather talk about these statutory holidays in our 'secular' society.

Canada is supposed to be a secular multi-cultural society where people of all ethnicities and religions are created equal. Yet, when it comes to holidays we are not. Now I have to admit not having to work today and still getting paid is quite something I enjoy. However, I certainly believe that the framework we have in this country for religious holidays is obviously biased and unfair. For the vast amount of Canadians who are Jewish, Muslim, Orthodox Christian, Sikh, Hindu, Buddhist, Pagan, Bah'ai, Atheist and more they are pushed aside on holidays saying Good Friday, Christmas and, the Christian New Years are the date accepted as holidays. Although, I have less issue with New Years due to its fairly overarching acceptance, though still created by a Pope, I certainly have issues with Good Friday and Christmas.

The only reason these days are at all good for me is getting statutory holiday pay and that I have certain segments of my family who are Christian (though I and my mother are not). My suggestion is giving each person the choice of so many religious holidays a year to take, these would be paid holidays taken upon whatever your faith's days are. If you are however atheist you may take these days simply as free vacation days. People may say that this would create too many problems, would put things out of balance, but I think if scheduled and an actual will was made in our society it could work. However, as I always am assumed to be Christian and am wished a Happy Easter when I celebrate the Spring Equinox and full moon, I have my doubts our society will have the will any time soon.

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Blogger janfromthebruce said...

well yes and no. If one was guaranteed in the workplace these stat holidays, and they could take them when they wanted to, well that would be fine. My concern would be that stats would become floating holiday, and thus a whole segment of the population would receive no guarantee they get off the days they really want.
Next, and moving beyond workers/workplaces, let's talk about how this would work for schools. This might be a bit of a scheduling nightmare.
My real concern here, as a secularist, is that those in the workforce who really get few "guaranteed days off" would be reduced to getting off days that the boss wants them to take off, and not vice versa.

8:07 p.m.  
Blogger Jade said...

Well from what I see in schools it already happens for instance at my high school there was a large Jewish population, during Jewish holidays at least 1/3rd or more of the school would be gone. How to specifically implement it in schools I'm not sure though I think our entire education system needs changing.

Obviously we would need the labour laws in place to make sure they got the guaranteed days off. I understand your concern though. The correct legal and social mechanisms would need to be in place.

4:59 p.m.  

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