Good Friday – Hungary’s latest public holiday

Last year Good Friday became a public holiday in Hungary. The proposal was submitted by the ruling Fidesz alliance with the Christian Democrats and was approved by 163 votes in support and two abstentions.

The idea of introducing a public holiday on Good Friday was first suggested by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán at a memorial event of the Synod of the Hungarian Reformed Church in October 2016. Good Friday is a Christian holiday commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death at Calvary. It is observed during Holy Week on the Friday preceding Easter Sunday, and the timing frequently coincides with the Jewish religious holiday of Passover.

Good Friday is celebrated all over the world, it is an official holiday in many European countries and is a statutory holiday in Canada. Altogether over 100 countries commemorate Good Friday as a National Holiday.

Yet, it is not a federal holiday in the United States. Why?

Good Friday is celebrated as a local state holiday in eleven U.S. states including Connecticut, Texas, Delaware, Hawaii, Indiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, North Carolina and North Dakota. State and local government offices and courts are closed, as well as some banks and postal offices in these states. And there were several campaigns to commemorate Good Friday as a National Holiday in all US states. These campaigns have failed, currently there are no plans to make it a National Holiday.

Good Friday is an intensively and exclusively religious holiday and the US Constitution requires separation of Church and State business.

In a legal opinion Alan C. Kay a federal court judge in Hawaii argued that Good Friday should be a National Holiday since it is not only a religious holiday anymore. It “has attained a secular character,” Kay writes. The observance “has become more an integral part of a traditional three-day secular celebration of spring . . . than a solemn observance of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion.” The judge tried to Chrismasize Good Friday, to strip it of its deeply religious nature and turn into a secular seasonal rite.

The U.S. Constitution is clear. It prohibits governmental establishment of religion; Church and State matters must be separated. Good Friday is not a National Holiday in the United States.

György Lázár

One Comment

  1. On one thing the author is dead wrong!

    There is NO “separation of church and state” in the US Constitution !!!

    The First Amendment states;

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

    That guarantees the total nutrality on the subject of religion. So goes the First Amendment on the issue of speech, press, assembly and to petition the Government for redress of grievances. Period !

    Restricting the power of government to even consider anything on those subjects, is the guarantee of individual liberties. Not for, nor against any religion! Every one can decide freely for him/herself. Practice or observe whatever religion, faith, tradition, custom , language, political ideology one may desire.

    That is what the unalienable rights to life, liberty and to pursuit of happiness is assured by the basic idea that this nation was established.
    Not on creed, nationality, dynasty, religion, race, ideology, or upon any political dogmas, etc.

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