Holidays away

Probably everyone knows that the word “holiday” comes from “holy day”; a day of religious significance. It has since been expanded to include any celebratory day, or even just a day of rest, as well as vacation time. The religious origins still remain in certain statutory holidays, most notably Christmas and Easter.

It’s time for that to stop.

Canada has long claimed to be a multi-cultural society, yet it remains Euro-centric and Christian-defined in many ways. This is unfair to all the other societal sources of our modern world, from the indigenous people to the atheists. And strangely enough, the co-opted versions of the original Christian holidays are insulting to that faith; they have become nothing more than crass commercial exploitation loosely based on spiritual beginnings.

So let us give the Christians back their holy days, and stop denying them to other faiths.

We do, in a halfhearted manner, allow celebrations of Ramadan, Hanukkah, Diwali, and so forth. But they are none afforded the same status as Christmas or Easter. Fortunately they have yet to suffer the same degradation as well. It is time for all statutory holidays to be relevant to the whole of society, rather than one particular segment (and that a religious one).

I propose Canada change the law so that only those holidays which are a part of everyone’s  culture, such as Canada Day, be kept as-is. Religions (and atheists) could then have ‘floating holidays’ which individuals could use according to the precepts of their particular beliefs. For national holidays this would retain New Year’s, Canada Day, Labour Day, Thanksgiving (Harvest Festival), and Remembrance Day. Christmas and Easter would be replaced by two floating days to be used by people of declared faith in accordance with their religion’s practices. (Family Day, that most contrived of holidays, would disappear as well.)

Provinces celebrate certain additional holidays as well, which would be retained or even nationalized – if the reason for them were significant to the whole of the country. These would include (but would not be limited to) Islander Day (PEI), Victoria Day (BC), Discovery Day (NL), and Civic Day (AB, BC, SK, ON, NB, NU).

I realize this is not a perfect plan and there is every likelihood that the powers that be would manage to use the concept to create a situation even worse than we have now. But it would be nice if Christmas and Easter were for Christians, not for profits. And maybe we could defuse some of the antipathy that exists between various religious segments of our society.

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