Good Friday. Or ‘Friday’, as I now call it.

I could never claim to be the most religious person on this planet. Don’t get me wrong, I think there’s plenty to be said for the sense of community that churches, synagogues or mosques can provide. And I think if it works for you, then more power to you. But personally, I find it difficult enough to believe that a football team leading the league by five points with seven games to go is actually going to win the Premiership, so what chance do I have of believing in an omnipotent and omniscient presence?

That said, I’m more than happy to take advantage of the fringe benefits of religious belief. I’ve been in (more or less) gainful employment for the last thirteen years, and in all that time, I’ve been fortunate enough never to have to work on Good Friday. Admittedly I don’t go to take communion, or even walk within a few yards of a church. But it’s always nice to have a day off in the first few months of the year.

Yet all that’s over now, and my first Good Friday in the USA was spent sat at my desk, avoiding calls from anyone in the UK, and at the same time wondering why I hadn’t elected to take the day off like most other people in the office.

The strange thing is that the USA always strikes me as being a vastly more religious country than the UK. It certainly seems to have much more of a presence in people’s day-to-day lives, put it like that. My low-level blasphemy causes me all manner of problems with one particular inhabitant of my office, yet I seem practically incapable of preventing it. Having been tutted at for taking the Lord’s name in vain for the eighty-third time a few weeks ago, I actually responded by saying, “Oh Jesus, I’m really sorry.”

I think the real problem is that Americans are so religious, they have to recognise all religious days – and if they were to make every religious day a holiday then as Morrissey once sang, every day would indeed be like Sunday. Personally I’ve got no problem with that, but America’s gross domestic product is already heading down towards that of Vanuatu as it is, and doesn’t need any further discouragement.

I wouldn’t mind so much, but as I write this, all my friends and family in the UK are no doubt snuggled up in bed wondering what they’re going to do with their Easter Monday bankpublic holiday tomorrow. There’s just no justice.

July 4th seems a long way away right now.

12 thoughts on “Good Friday. Or ‘Friday’, as I now call it.

  1. Nat

    I’m with you on finding it amazing that a country as overtly religious as America doesn’t take Good Friday and Easter Monday as holidays.

    Although, that said, I feel like reminding all the people in the UK who are currently campaigning for an extra Holiday (and there are many) that their employers are not required by statute to give them time off on Bank Holidays. Indeed, mine doesn’t – we are required to take them from our leave allowance (which is to be fair larger than average to allow for this).

  2. Brooklyn

    Uhh, Nat. Christmas is a public holiday, but I have to take annual leave for Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, etc. Making Good Friday and Easter Monday holidays here would just be rubbing it in.

  3. Dylan

    Brooklyn – like I said, recognising every religious day would be nigh on impossible, hence having to celebrate holidays like Presidents Day. Personally the best Presidents Day I can imagine is the one that sees the departure of your current President, but maybe I’m just biased.

    Thanks for commenting on the blog, by the way – always good to see new people!

    Nat – I think there’s now a legal minimum of 24 days holiday in the UK (including bank holidays). Given that there are 8 bank holidays (compared to 9 public holidays in the US), your work has to give you at least 16 non-bank holidays. Personally I’d rather choose my days off anyway – it always seemed a hell of a long way from the May bank holiday to the August bank holiday, and then from August to Christmas!

  4. Expatmum

    I don’t mind not having the religious days off (“cause I believe in separation of church and state, and I’m not religious) but what really got me yesterday was that all our shops were closed. I really needed a few things and there was nothing other than the 7-11 open. What’s that all about?

  5. Karen

    Here in Iceland the state religion in Lutheran, I ain’t got much clue about that, but we have the usual public holidays as Ireland and the UK. Although I did have to work Thursday and Friday this year, I have been lucky to have Christmas off every year. I’m not religious, but I think working Christmas would be like finding out there is no santa.
    We have around 11 public holidays a year I think and 26 summer holiday days 😀
    I don’t get the public holidays off guaranteed though, but I do get a day for my winter hols for every public holiday I work(or red days as they are called here)

    I am sure July will zoom in for you 🙂

  6. Brooklyn

    Dylan: Yes; I was thinking of acknowledging your point on that, but since it was already made, etc.

    Expatmum:
    I’m not saying everyone should work on Christmas (obviously some have to now, police, firefighters, EMT’s etc.). Why not give everyone non-sectarian holidays (July 4, Thanksgiving, Gene Roddenberry’s birthday (or is that last one the the holiday of a religious sect?)) and a bunch of “floating hholidays” plus current annual leave? Believe me, I’d still have to take annual leave for some religious days, but at least the symbolism of Church/State separation would be maintained.

  7. Brooklyn

    Dylan: Yes; I was thinking of acknowledging your point on that, but since it was already made, etc.

    Expatmum:
    I’m not saying everyone should work on Christmas (obviously some have to now, police, firefighters, EMT’s etc.). Why not give everyone non-sectarian holidays (July 4, Thanksgiving, Gene Roddenberry’s birthday (or is that last one the the holiday of a religious sect?)) and a bunch of “floating holidays” plus current annual leave? Believe me, I’d still have to take annual leave for some religious days, but at least the symbolism of Church/State separation would be maintained.

  8. Brooklyn

    Double sorry.

    Sorry for double post.

    Sorry to Expatmum, I should have been addressing Karen.

    So much for beginner’s luck on this blog.

  9. LolaBloom

    I could say so many things about this topic but I will refrain other than to agree with everything said above.

    Dylan, Don’t fret though, we’ve got Memorial Day at end of May!! So you shouldn’t have to wait til July 🙂

  10. Brooklyn

    Dylan:

    One more thing.

    Now that you live in NYC, I’m sure you appreciate how the concept of “suspension of opposite side of the street parking” promotes ecumenism with regard to holidays in this City.

    (I’ll leave it you, the expert expat, to explain this one to outsiders. It is, or course, a doozy.)

  11. Karen

    Brooklyn, I agree with non religious holidays(I’m an atheist) but growing up in a religious country and family, they are kind of part of life even though I don’t officially celebrate them anymore.

    Ditto, LolaBloom, I shall keep my yapper shut, I seem to have been involved in religious discussions on every forum I go on lately 🙂

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