MP hopeful fresh attempt to make Good Friday state holiday will succeed

Photo: Robert Aichinger / freeimages

The Christian Democrats are pushing to make Good Friday a state holiday in the Czech Republic, as it is in several European states. Previous attempts to give workers a day off on the religious holiday have failed. However, a senior party figure says the Christian Democrats are now hopeful of finding support for the revival of a tradition ended by the Communists.

Photo: Robert Aichinger / freeimages
People in neighbouring Germany and Slovakia – and several other European countries – will be able to put their feet up tomorrow on Good Friday.

Here in the Czech Republic it will be a normal working day. But not for long if coalition partners the Christian Democrats have their way.

The head of the party’s deputies group, Jiří Mihola, has announced plans to table a bill making the Friday before Easter the Czech Republic’s 13th state holiday. He outlines why.

“Good Friday used to be a state holiday but it was abolished at the start of the Communist period, in the early 1950s. That’s when the tradition of Easter Monday was begun. In many European states, particularly Protestant ones, Good Friday has an important place as a state holiday.”

Good Friday is the day when Christians commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

However, the Czechs have a reputation as being one of Europe’s least religious nations. Some will no doubt argue that there is little sense in the state honouring a holy day that is of no significance to most citizens.

Jiří Mihola counters that the custom is of wider significance.

“We need to look at Good Friday not just as a religious holiday but as part of the Czech cultural tradition in the broadest sense. The way we see it, it’s a religious holiday for some people and for others a welcome day off when they can be with their families. It’s part of our party’s family-friendly policy.”

Jiří Mihola,  photo: Jiří Novák / Public Domain
Indeed, the Thursday before Easter and Good Friday are school holidays, creating a child-care headache for many parents forced to go to work.

Many Social Democrat and Civic Democrat MPs are reportedly for the proposed change, while ANO say they will discuss it when the time comes. TOP 09’s Miroslav Kalousek has previously been cool on the idea and the Communists are against.

The idea of making Good Friday a state holiday is something of an evergreen in Czech politics and previous efforts have come to naught. Mr. Mihola says he hopes this time will be different.

“From my communications with colleagues from other deputies groups I think there is a chance and that we’ll find support. We regard it as a certain symbolic step that the Chamber of Deputies has decided not to hold a session this Friday, following an agreement between the heads of all the deputies groups.”