Roman Catholic Religious Holiday

Roman Catholic Religious Holiday

Question: Is it appropriate that statutory holidays like Easter and Christmas celebrate events in the Christian calendar?

Rev. GEOFFREY KERSLAKE is a priest of the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Ottawa.

In many cultures, major religious festivals are celebrated as national holidays where the majority of the population shares a common religious and cultural heritage. In Canada, the majority of citizens list their religion as “Christianity” on the census.

I have never had anyone complain to me about having these days as statutory holidays.

Although the celebration of Christmas and Easter are important religious events for Christians, other religious denominations also have significant events to celebrate close to these holidays.

Interestingly, about 19 years ago in Ontario, Sunday ceased to be a statutory holiday where before we honoured the third commandment of God: “…the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work” (Exodus 20:8-10 and cf. Deut 5:12-15).

Today, Sunday is now largely seen as ‘another Saturday.’ It is worthwhile to consider whether the added convenience and economic boost of Sunday shopping have been worth the social cost to families. Currently, the only remaining statutory holidays that have a specifically Christian basis are Christmas and Easter. It is up to individuals to decide what they wish to do with this time off.

If, in Ontario, we can celebrate “Family Day” in February, perhaps it is reasonable to have a day off work to celebrate dates that the majority of the population considers significant.

It is a matter for debate how many Christians avail themselves of the opportunity to celebrate these very meaningful dates or whether they have become primarily “days off work.”

Religious Opinion

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