Saturday 24 February 2018

We lose more than just feast days as culture becomes ever more secular

Mary Kenny

Mary Kenny

The weather for today's bank holiday is expected to be fine and may it be a pleasant day for all, although perhaps not one young person in a hundred now knows what the source of this holiday is: a replacement for Whitsun, or Pentecost, as it was marked throughout the Christian millennia. Whit Sunday was two weeks ago and traditionally, there was a holiday Monday following Whit. Ireland, along with the United Kingdom, secularised these traditional religious holidays some years ago, and replaced them with a holiday named for the institution of banking.

To exchange a Christian tradition for one linked with money perhaps reflects our values quite appropriately.

There is much to be said for separating church and state in a republic, something recommended in the New Testament itself. Many people believe that Ireland should be more secular, and that this would reflect inclusiveness and modernity. But it's interesting that other secular republics such as France and Italy have no problem about retaining their traditional Christian feast days.

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