Another Day, Another Holiday

Another day, another German holiday. Second of four this month. Does no-one have to work in this country?

In Canada we seem to be able to count on a day off each month, more or less. Whatever date the holiday is supposed to be, we observe it on the nearest Monday. Here it seems the date is the day. Except for Pentecost, later this month, which will be a Monday holiday because there’s no point in shutting down things on a Sunday because everything is already closed.

Today is Ascension Day. I understand the religious significance for Christians but hadn’t realized it merited holiday status. (My mother remembers it being a holiday when she was growing up in Quebec. Those were different times.) This doesn’t strike me as a particularly Christian or even particularly religious culture. When I have attended the local church, it was not what I would have described as full. And one of the town churches is now a museum, which to me is a sign of religious decline rather than being indicative of thriving Christianity.

There seem to be a lot of events happening today in the area villages, judging from the posters I have seen on my travels. A lot seemed to be wine related, which makes sense given how many vineyards there are in the area. Mind you, there was heavy rain overnight that is supposed to continue until mid-afternoon. That may dampen the celebrations (pun intended).

Not that I have really paid much attention to the holiday, other than to make sure I had an extra day’s supply of milk in the fridge since the stores won’t be open until Friday. For me it isn’t a holiday. My work involves daily meetings with colleagues in at least five different countries. If we took note of every country’s holidays, we would probably have a day or two off each week. That just doesn’t make sense. If I want Ascension Day off, it comes out of my vacation time – and I have plans for those days.

So Happy Ascension Day from me to you, wherever you may find yourself today. Whether it is a holiday or not, there is nothing stopping you from taking the time to reflect on the meaning of the day.

Today is a celebration of Jesus Christ’s ascension into heaven, an event that would not have happened had he not first been raised from the dead. There’s a lot to contemplate in that, especially when you start asking yourself why God’s son had to die in the first place. That’s a huge theological question that goes back to the Garden of Eden.

Today is a holiday though, so you may have some extra time. Why not investigate it for yourself rather than just taking my word about its importance?

It could be life-changing.

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2 comments

  1. Good point about factories and I don’t know the answer, but I expect they are shut down today. There is a car plant near here, across the border in France, but I can’t tell from their website if they are producing today.

    I too would prefer to have a long weekend.

    I’m not sure how much retail business here is affected by days closed. But then again, I only shop for groceries – I can’t get a fresh lettuce online. And I do feel mildly resentful that the grocery store closed at 12:30 Wednesday (because they don’t open Wednesday afternoons) and won’t reopen until 8 a.m. Friday. Not a problem if I know the holiday is coming, but the first time it happened no-one had mentioned the upcoming festival, whatever it was.

    Any retailer that has online competition, such as a bookstore, would be hurt by the shutdown. But there is a thought that there is only so much money to be spent and that increasing or decreasing store hours will not affect the total, though it might affect individual store revenue.

  2. While your main thesis is that there are an abundance of religious holidays in a now secular society, I have to say I prefer the North American model for two reasons.

    First, the creation of “the long weekend” as we know it here facilitates travel. Pop-up, mid-week holidays would mean simply relaxing at home. The travel is helpful in an age where families are scattered over greater distances.

    Second, the quantity of these would definitely impact me as a retail business owner, and I would expect it to impact the economy as a whole. It certainly stands in contrast to the U.S. situation where often Christmas Day is the only day retail fully shuts down, Thanksgiving openings now being more commonplace.

    Do factories abide by these closings? Plant shut-downs and start-ups are costly and inefficient. Perhaps in larger manufacturing centres, Ascension Day is observed differently.

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