The dynamic Castro duo has a little treat for Pope Benedict XVI’s Easter basket this year: Good Friday will be celebrated as a national holiday in Cuba for the first time since the revolution in 1959. According to CNN, this raises the total number of religious holidays in that island nation to two—Fidel Castro made Christmas a state holiday at the request of Pope John Paul II in 1997.
How does this compare with your neighborhood? Twelve U.S. states recognize Good Friday as a holiday, but this is no victory for religion. In several court challenges to faith-based federal holidays, it is the increasing secularization of holidays that saves the day. Religious Tolerance claims that movements to declare making Christmas and Easter unsuitable as government holidays were thwarted by the recognition that many people celebrate the arrival of Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny on those days and, thus, the holidays are not uniquely religious.
So Jesus’s birthday and the feast of his resurrection are not religious holidays, so Americans can celebrate them. Except that they also are, so Cubans can celebrate them, too.
No matter how you spell it, these holy days are precious gifts. This Good Friday, say a prayer for America. And Cuba. And, well, everyone.
Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles.