Monday, 24 March 2008

Holidays for Everyone: A Proposal for Reasonable Accommodation

Today is Easter Monday, which is a holiday in Canada as is Good Friday. The legacy of a time when the country was overwhelmingly Christian and Quebec was almost completely Catholic, the two holidays today give ammunition to all groups who want their own religious holidays recognized. To recognize Christian festivals is all right, but if you do you must recognize the festivals of others, it seems to me. That is what “reasonable accommodation”—a phrase that has been receiving a lot air time in Quebec for the last year or so—means.

But what would happen if we changed all our legal holidays to ones which are purely secular? There are several already in both Canada and the US: Thanksgiving, Labour Day, a holiday near the end of May with various names, Patriotic celebrations in June and July, a day off in February in many places. Perhaps we should add a solstice/new year combination in December and a spring festival near the vernal equinox. This would not mean that various religions wouldn’t be able to mark their special festivals (including permission for taking a day or two off on very important days,) but that our societies would include everyone in officially sanctioned celebrations.

We are countries of immigrants, and we must not allow ourselves to be caught in a sectarian framework that no longer reflects who we are.


Martin Langeland said...

State holidays, generic festivals and personal fete days.
The first for all as community building in the nation. Generic holidays to allow inter-communities exchanges. Finally building connections within and among families.
Sound about right? Make one a month maybe.
So a dozen holidays plus a month's vacation, minimum, and the old continent might start living up to that freedom stuff we keep boasting about.

Mary Soderstrom said...

Sounds good.