Easter Holidays Are History

Ideas and Issues

New Orleans     Scheduling a call for our Latin American offices with help from a companero in Canada, I was surprised to hear that the Monday after Easter was a holiday for him.  For some reason, even living in a historically Catholic City like New Orleans, this was a gap in my education.  Organizationally, because our headquarters was in New Orleans, Mardi Gras was a mandatory holiday in the city, if for no other reason because it would be impossible to get into our offices located on primary streets like Elysian Fields, Canal, or St. Claude Avenue.  We would always work a trade on the organizational calendar.  If you got off on Mardi Gras, then you worked on Good Friday.  If you were somewhere outside the Mardi Gras tradition, then you took off Good Friday.

That’s the way it was and has been for years, but maybe it is time to take a look and rethink this.  Church attendance has fallen like a rock in the United States, and although there are exceptions, this has been true in most countries.  There are still more people who claim a religion than who participate in the traditions, but those numbers have fallen rapidly as well.  The USA in becoming more secular by the year.  One survey ranks us as only 32nd among the world’s countries in adherence to any religion.  Add to that the fact that anything having to with Easter, either on Friday or Monday, is Christianity-based, and it’s a wonder that it survives as a holiday anywhere, as the world becomes more multicultural.  Taking a hard look, this is a holiday that has become an anachronism, and in fact, once you view with fresh eyes, even taking the holiday seems more the exception to the rule.

In the US, Good Friday is neither a federally recognized holiday nor is it a banking holiday.  It remains a state holiday in Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky (half-day), Louisiana, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Tennessee and Texas.  Easter Monday is informally recognized in North Dakota and in some cities in New York, Michigan, and Indiana, but that’s it.

Easter Monday is a federal employees’ holiday in Canada although not mandatory for anyone else, but Good Friday is a mandatory holiday for everyone. Monday is a public holiday in Australia, but in practice is mostly about sporting events.  It is a public holiday in Italy, the Netherlands, and New Zealand.  It’s a public holiday in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, but not Scotland.

Good Friday continues to have a strong run in many countries and territories with a strong Christian tradition such as Australia, Bermuda, Brazil, the countries of the Caribbean, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Malta, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, the Philippines, Portugal, the Scandinavian countries, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and Venezuela, where the day is observed as a public or federal holiday, as well as Hong Kong.

Honestly, that’s not that long a list.  This whole Easter holiday, on either side of the Sunday, is the rare exception to the rule, even in the United States.  If the Christian Nationalism gang were really about religion rather than race, this would be a big issue for them, I would think, but in truth this is a modern day relic having its last gasp as an outlier.  In order to keep from embarrassing ourselves, we’ll have to make the change on our calendar in 2024, so that it’s a fielder’s choice, rather than a full-stop closure.