Senators push to reinstate Good Friday as public holiday

For Christians, Good Friday is one of the most important holidays of the year – and in many countries of the world, it is observed as a public holiday. In the Czech Republic, the holiday was scrapped by the communists in the 1950s. A group of senators has been trying for years to reinstate the holiday in the Czech calendar. But the way things look, it seems that Czechs will go to work for many Good Fridays to come.

On Good Friday morning, the bells have flown to Rome but for the Czechs, it’s business as usual. Unlike all of the neighbouring countries, including former federation partner Slovakia, the day Jesus died on the cross is not observed as a public holiday in the Czech Republic, having been scrapped by the communists more than half a century ago. Soňa Paukrtová is one of the Czech senators who have long been pushing for the return of this public holiday.

Soňa Paukrtová
“We believe that Good Friday should be a public holiday for one simple reason – Easter is one of the most important Christian holidays, and a number of European countries, such as Germany, Slovakia and Spain, observe it as a public holiday. Another reason is that schoolchildren have a two-day spring holiday, they are home on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday anyway, so we thought it would be good for families if parents didn’t have to go to work either.”

Two years ago, the Senate even passed a motion to reinstate Good Friday as a Czech public holiday. But to become law, the bill also has to be approved by Parliament’s lower house. MPs discussed the issue several times but they never mustered enough votes to pass it.

The Czech Republic observes 13 public holidays, including Easter Monday, and one of the reasons why some oppose the return of Good Friday as a public holiday has to do with the economy. But the finance ministry estimated the costs of an extra day off at some 65 million crowns, or around 3.4 million US dollars which seems a negligible sum in the context of Czech public finances.

In support of the idea, senators even organized a petition, which until now has been signed by more than 35,000 Czechs.

“I just checked it; 35,245 people, that’s quite a large number. But you know, when you’re pushing for an extra day off, there are always people ready to support it, and they might not even be Christians.”

Whatever the motivation might be for reinstating Good Friday as a public holiday, Czechs will have to wait for at least another year, or even longer. The current lower house will not debate the motion before May’s general election, which means the whole process will have to start from scratch.