01554: The Irony of Holy Week Holidays

This week is the Christian Holy Week - a period meant to commemorate the last days of Jesus Christ and his eventual resurrection. It includes a number of days of religious obligation and naturally there are various masses and other religious activities that "traditionally" make-up the period. And given the Philippines considers itself to be a predominantly Catholic Country, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday are considered to be national holidays as well. Hurrah for our secular government.

Of course when I go over my social streams, there are quite a number of discussions asking about what everyone's Holy Week plans are and thus the usual listings of beach destinations and the like that they're heading to. And while you'll still see a few people who mention family obligations, more often than not the discussion is about leisure activities and things of that nature.

I won't get into whether or not this represents an increasing secular mindset among people or how folks are identifying with Catholicism less and less - that's a wee bit too murky at this point. But I will point out how ridiculous it is to have government mandated holidays based around religions.

As much as we claim to be a predominantly Catholic country, most folks just look at these days as holidays and thus a chance to get out of town, visit some interesting vacation spot and just relax. There may be some accidental meditation involved, but I highly doubt it'll be truly religious in nature. And I'm not just talking about yuppie professionals leaving the city, we have entire families planning grand trips to various beaches in the country or perhaps colder spots like Tagaytay or Baguio.

One can argue in favor of the notion of "holiday economics" and how the government supporting so many holidays (including religious ones) is somehow good for the economy, but that still feels like a bit of a stretch. Plus it places an annoying burden on companies who need to keep operating through the holidays like restaurants and of course call centers since holiday pay can really eat into your bottom line.

I'm not asking people to be more religious or to use these holidays solely for religious practices - that's too much. What I am saying is that the government could seriously re-evaluate how relevant these holidays truly are in the long run given we are seeing increasing numbers of people who don't exactly use Holy Week as it was intended. Sure they may go to the provinces and maybe the visit family but that may not require mandating so many holidays. We can probably get rid of Maundy Thursday or something.

In the meantime, the non-religious citizens of the country will continue to treat these holidays as generic free days and will probably commit more scenes while drunk at the beach compared to any repentance we may witness in the other barbaric religious practices.

Personally I have no plans of leaving town this year - traveling during Holy Week feels like utter madness. But I wouldn't mind taking the days off from work given how hard it is to get around the city when public transportation becomes limited to skeletal crews who drew the short straws for the holiday period. Ugh.
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