Church vs State

So, the Vatican moved St Patrick’s Day this year. This doesn’t appear to have sunk in to the many “Irish” who seem to take the day as an excuse to drink to excess and celebrate the fact that their great-great-grandmother once went to Ireland.It raises an interesting point about the celebration of Saints days and Civic holidays. St Patrick’s being on a Saturday means that the bank holiday in Ireland still falls on the 17th (the first Monday, just as you get Xmas and Boxing Day bank holidays where the actual dates land on the weekend). So, what are people celebrating and when?If you are Catholic and celebrating the Saint’s day, then clearly this should happen on the 15th this year (as the Vatican has told you this is what you’re going to do). So what are people celebrating on the 17th? The fact that they are due a day off if they are eligible for a bank holiday; their Irishness; limited edition green beer?There isn’t supposed to be a separation of Church and State in the UK, despite England being pretty damn multicultural. So in a country with some pretty robust anti-discrimination laws you get these little quirks like public holidays for Xmas, Boxing Day and Easter. Then you also get random ones like the Queen’s birthday (which moved one year, or was it that we got an extra one, I can’t remember). Everyone gets the day off, regardless of religions affiliation, yet, particularly Easter, the days have religious significance. It amuses me greatly that the public holiday for Easter can’t be set until Passover has been determined. This then sets the dates for Good Friday and it all rolls merrily along. Now we find that it interacts with Saints Days.I wonder when people who have St Patrick as their personal saint celebrated? Presumably on Saturday since that was the religious celebration.

4 thoughts on “Church vs State

  1. Jen

    I thought the whole point was that we *didn’t* have separation of Church and State over here (the upper echelons of the church sit in the Lords), hence why we have religious festivals as public holidays? The country has a constitutionally established religion, after all, and the whole ‘divine right of kings’ power behind the monarchy is about as religious as it comes.

    The First Amendment to the US Constitution states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”, so they *do* have the official separation. No Good Friday or Easter Monday off work over there – though Thanksgiving was practically sacred 😉

  2. fak Post author

    Exactly, the UK just can’t make its mind up. I worded my post badly earlier (too annoyed at how many people use Ireland’s national day to get trashed). I meant that the UK has effectively become like the US in terms of separation of church and state. It has numerous laws against religious discrimination (modern), yet has historically had the government tied up with church. Things like public holidays haven’t caught up with modern multiculturalism.

    At least it doesn’t have the paranoia/obsession of the States about the division.

  3. Plumsie

    Why do we only have public holidays on christian religious festivals such as easter and christmas?

    I live where the majority are muslim, Why do we not get muslim holidays as public holidays. I would love it if we were multi cultural enough to have time off for all the different religions holidays as it would mean I did very little work.

    When will some of these holidays change to reflect the changing diversity within the UK?

  4. Jen

    It’s odd that the US seems to allow religion to play a bigger part in policy-making than we do, and we’re not officially a secular country. Meh. You’re right, of course; the UK can’t make up its mind.
    I rather liked the way G’s company did things in the US – X number of days outside the regular allowance to use for whatever religious/cultural holiday best suited you, on whatever day of the year you just needed a break. Seems like a good way of doing things!

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