Where's my American Easter holiday gone?
April 10, 2009 7:17 AM   Subscribe

The US has holidays at Christmas. Why not Easter?

In the UK, over Easter, most people get two days off work - Good Friday and Easter Monday (in lieu of Easter Sunday).

In the USA, as far as I can tell, it's business as usual.

Since both countries get December 25th off (for primarily Christian reasons, I'd imagine), why doesn't the US get Easter off as well as Christmas?

(and I know the US says it's not a religious country, but hey, it says In God We Trust on all the $$$ bills)
posted by almostwitty to Society & Culture (39 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Easter is on a Sunday. Stores are closed. Most people have off. Are you really asking why the US doesn't have an Easter Monday? Cause that's not really a holiday.

I have off today for Good Friday. Many business places and schools are closed.
posted by amro at 7:21 AM on April 10, 2009


Because we worship the almighty dollar more than we care about Easter.

U.S. workers receive the fewest vacation days per year on average compared with other major industrialized nations.
posted by Fleebnork at 7:25 AM on April 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Amro, on normal Sundays stores are not closed in the US. The department store where I work will be closed on Easter; the bookstore where my mom works will be open normal hours.
posted by jschu at 7:27 AM on April 10, 2009


Good Friday is a holiday for many. My wife's company is closed for the holiday although mine is not. The major US stock markets are closed today. Because of that, I used to get the day off when I worked for an investment firm many years ago.

Offices being closed on Easter Monday is virtually unknown in the U.S.
posted by tomwheeler at 7:29 AM on April 10, 2009


America has a WORK WORK WORK ethic, so why give people off for a holiday that falls on Sunday? You don't get to the world's #1 Superpower by slacking off for something as silly as your soul, family or rest.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:31 AM on April 10, 2009


Data point: All of our (my company, not the country) retail stores will be closed on Sunday (they usually are not) and all corporate workers (again, us, not US) get a half day today.
posted by SpiffyRob at 7:35 AM on April 10, 2009


Good Friday is a typical holiday and Easter Sunday is a major holiday for many. I get today off as well. It's not a major shopping holiday but all we need is one of those every year. BTW, I am Eastern Orthodox and that means Easter falls on the following weekend than the Protestant/Catholic Easter. Granted, the Greek and Eastern Orthodox populations are not too big here but I'll take what I can get.
posted by JJ86 at 7:38 AM on April 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Good Friday is typically just a bank holiday in the US.
posted by jerseygirl at 7:40 AM on April 10, 2009


In my experience, Good Friday as a holiday is influenced by region of the US. When I lived in the South, having Good Friday off was fairly common. It seems to be far less common in NYC. Even though I work for a non-profit with a liberal holiday policy (we get Columbus Day off!), we are open today. And it's a long freaking stretch from President's Day to Memorial Day.
posted by kimdog at 7:42 AM on April 10, 2009


With religious holidays I would think that it is whether or not the holiday is such a big deal to so many people of that religious persuasion that offices, schools, and stores would not be able to be adequately staffed. For Christmas, 90% of staff would probably take it off. As a practical matter, you kind of *have* to have Christmas as a holiday. Not necessarily for religious reasons. Easter is on a Sunday, Easter Monday isn't anything special.

Good Friday, I think this is more important in the Roman Catholic tradition than in other Christian traditions, but local governments, offices and schools are closed. In New York, with a large catholic population, many offices are closed. Schools are closed. I think courts are closed. And let me tell you on the Subway this morning it was like a week-end.

Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are big deals in New York, probably in other places where there are a lot of Jews. Schools are closed in New York and in most of the burbs, offices are open but often run a skeleton staff. Many smaller offices close.

I wouldn't be surprised if local government offices in Dearborn are closed for Eid al-adha e.g.
posted by xetere at 7:47 AM on April 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Traffic was really light this morning so apparently lots of people DO have the day off (reference point: Chicago suburbs). My hometown of Milwaukee is heavily Catholic, and it's common for companies there to give employees Friday off. I've never heard of a company that gives people Monday off.
posted by desjardins at 7:47 AM on April 10, 2009


Even though I work for a non-profit with a liberal holiday policy (we get Columbus Day off!)

Sounds like you follow the federal holiday schedule.
posted by inigo2 at 7:48 AM on April 10, 2009


A lot of schools schedule their spring break to coincide with Easter. That way, the kids can be out of school on Good Friday and the schools can claim it is not a religious thing. My county also scheduled a Teacher In Service day for Monday. The teachers have to complete the quarter's grades and the kids get Easter Monday off. Again, it is not a religious thing, just a fluke of schedules.

Despite the fact that my employer's clients are all colleges and universities, we have enough open today and Monday that we're staying open. We get no holidays between New Year's Day and Memorial Day. It is a long 5 months unless you take a vacation day.
posted by onhazier at 7:48 AM on April 10, 2009


The US is a predominantly Christian nation, but I don't get Good Friday or any other Christian holiday aside from Christmas now that I live in New York. More of my coworkers celebrate Passover than Easter anyway.

We're given floating holidays in addition to vacation and sick days, so we can take off the religious holidays we choose.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 7:51 AM on April 10, 2009


Yeah it is funny. In NYC, schools are closed starting Passover through the next week for "spring break", so its very annoying for us parents. I know a handful of folks that do get off for Good Friday, but I've never heard of Easter Monday.

Maybe its because Easter always falls on a Sunday?
posted by RajahKing at 7:55 AM on April 10, 2009


In Canada, Good Friday and Easter Monday are statutory holidays (holidays with pay). Whee!
posted by KokuRyu at 8:13 AM on April 10, 2009


and I know the US says it's not a religious country, but hey, it says In God We Trust on all the $$$ bills

And this is a hotly contested issue, actually. The big deal in the US isn't that the majority of Americans aren't Christian [they are] but that the government, the big body that sets the holidays, be sort of religion-neutral when deciding what holidays people should get off at a federal level. The Christmas thing is sort of an issue, actually, because it's the big fat exception to this, the thing that makes religious people say "see we are a Christian nation and it's okay to have the government make national holidays that reflect this!" and non-religious people say "damnit, this is a slippery slope for making other religious holidays into federal holidays like, say Easter. Christmas shouldn't be a federal holiday!"

But, while Christmas can be argued to be a secular holiday [and this is argued, a lot, every year around holidaytime] and was argued to be so even before it became a federal holiday, Easter really doesn't have that same vibe to it. It's much more about Jesus -- who is not a holy person in other major world religions -- and much less about shopping/family-time/winter holidays. So, to make Easter into a US holiday would be, to many people, going even further down the road of "hey we're Christians!" which is unlikely to happen because too many people are still feeling a bit weirded out about Christmas.

So, it's better to look at the day off for the 25th as an exception to the usual "the federal government reflects a non-secular US, holidaywise" than "hey Christmas is a holiday, why not Lent?" though I think the fact that Easter is on a Sunday gives a lot of people who would otherwise be pushing hard for an Easter holiday less impetus to do so.

This does not mean that businesses can't decide, on their own not to give you holidays for whatever you want [and/or allow you to celebrate whatever religious holiday you choose] but sort of explaining what happens at a federal level in the US. Making a new holiday is sort of a Big Deal and so my personal feeling is that if it didn't happen with Easter yet, it's not going to.
posted by jessamyn at 8:22 AM on April 10, 2009 [5 favorites]


Because in this politically correct world in which we live, if we give off for one religion's holiday we need to start giving off for all. Just take a vacation day or a personal day or a sick day.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:29 AM on April 10, 2009


Plus that Easter is a variable holiday date makes it somewhat harder to incorporate as an official holiday I would guess.
posted by mrt at 8:30 AM on April 10, 2009


kimdog is right about it being regional. And it's not just a north/south thing but, as far as I can tell, a deep south/everywhere else thing. When I lived in Texas and Arkansas, Easter Sunday was a fairly big deal, but Good Friday really wasn't. Now that I'm in South Carolina, Good Friday is a de facto holiday for most. Where I work, most everyone takes a vacation day for it.
posted by wheat at 8:31 AM on April 10, 2009


What Jessamyn said. I add that some companies give you floating holiday time and you can choose what day to take off.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:31 AM on April 10, 2009


Hey, I am an American in the UK (the reverse of you) and noticed the same thing.

The stinginess quotient is also part of it. What people haven't mentioned is that in the US folks often only get Christmas day off. In the UK its Christmas day and Boxing Day - the day after Christmas. So, you don't even have to bring Easter into the discussion.

I was also discussing it with an Indian friend of mine who said: "Hey! We have Good Friday and Easter Monday in India...though most people don't know why." And indeed the India Holiday calendar looks like a great multi-religious mashup with Ramadan and Gandhi's Birthday and Christmas all there!
posted by vacapinta at 8:35 AM on April 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


My normally 40-minute commute here in Los Angeles was only about 15 minutes today - which tells me that A LOT of people have Good Friday off. Sadly, I'm not one of them :(
posted by chez shoes at 8:53 AM on April 10, 2009


KokuRyu writes "In Canada, Good Friday and Easter Monday are statutory holidays (holidays with pay). Whee!"

Only Quebec designates Easter Monday as a stat and then you have to choose between good Friday and easter Monday, everywhere else it's just Good Friday.

Employers are of course welcome to give additional days off.
posted by Mitheral at 8:53 AM on April 10, 2009


I was also discussing it with an Indian friend of mine who said: "Hey! We have Good Friday and Easter Monday in India...though most people don't know why." And indeed the India Holiday calendar looks like a great multi-religious mashup with Ramadan and Gandhi's Birthday and Christmas all there!

I was talking about this to an Indian guy I know, and he said at his company, they were like, "look, in India, there's a feast day for some religion every third day, so what we're going to do is say 'everyone gets N religious holidays off. Allocate them as you will, but you have to choose ahead of time so we can plan projects and timelines and stuff." Then, most of the less-religious people (which was most of the office) would just take the religious holidays most convenient to them, like if they wanted time off in summer, they'd use a summer religious holiday.
posted by jeb at 8:55 AM on April 10, 2009


To expand on the regional thing - Good Friday is a state holiday in some US states (NC and NJ for two) and some public services are closed (like libraries) on Easter Sunday.
posted by fiore at 8:56 AM on April 10, 2009


Datapoint 1: I am at work now. Fuckers.

Datapoint 2: A lot of schools tend to be closed at this time, as part of a week-long "Spring break" which doesn't acknowledge Easter. When i was in school we got the Thurs. and Fri. before Easter off.


Comment: I'm an atheist, and I find the whole getting upset about Xmas/Easter being holidays thing a bit weird. It's a day off. Unless someone is coming to your house with a gun forcing you to celebrate Jesus, what's the problem? It's not you getting Christian-ized, it's the holidays becoming secular. As far as I'm concerned, Christmas is about Santa, Easter is about Bunnies, and I'll take any day off I can get.


Comment 2: Stop bringing up the "In God We Trust" thing. There are many good reasons to criticize the US, but this is not one of them. As societies age, they retain anachronisms that have little to nothing to do with their current laws or standards. The title of the UK's national anthem is "God Save The Queen." That's two right there, just in the four-word title.
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:00 AM on April 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Hey, some people in the U.S. get time off for Easter. Congress gets a two-week break in April that is called the "Easter recess," though it falls during passover as well. Congress also gets the entire month of August off, much as the do in Europe.
posted by ekroh at 9:04 AM on April 10, 2009


Even though I work for a non-profit with a liberal holiday policy (we get Columbus Day off!)

Sounds like you follow the federal holiday schedule.


Actually, no. We don't get Veteran's Day.
posted by kimdog at 9:06 AM on April 10, 2009


FWIW, Austin area schools have Good Friday and Easter Monday off, because spring break 'round these parts occurs in March and revolves around the holiest of holy weeks: SXSW.
posted by puritycontrol at 9:21 AM on April 10, 2009


Comment 2: Stop bringing up the "In God We Trust" thing. There are many good reasons to criticize the US, but this is not one of them. As societies age, they retain anachronisms that have little to nothing to do with their current laws or standards.

That's not really an anachronism, though. "In God We Trust" was put on paper currency starting in 1957.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:47 AM on April 10, 2009


I was wondering why so many people were talking about being at work today on the internet. I work in an Ontario public library and we get Good Friday and Easter Sunday off with pay but we are open Saturday and Easter Monday. We get stat pay for Monday as well so if you are working you basically get double time. All schools are closed for a four day weekend, even the public ones (Spring break is called March break here and is a week off in March for the schools). And I was complaining we didn't get enough time off. I'm sorry for all those that had to work today.
posted by saucysault at 9:56 AM on April 10, 2009


@drjimmy11 - a wee bit off-topic, but the UK is officially a nation belonging to the Church of England. The Archbishop of Canterbury (head of the Church of England) is chosen by 'the monarch' under advisement from the British government ie the Queen rubberstamps the Government's decision.

So, alas, officially, the UK is Christian/Church of England. Of course, not everyone sees it that way - and ironically, the chief press officer for the Blair government told an American journalist that "we don't do religion". Then as soon as Tony Blair left office, he converted to Catholicism...
posted by almostwitty at 10:35 AM on April 10, 2009


Datapoint: Houston, I'm at work, but the office is very quiet so I guess a bunch of people took the day off. My wife is off with her school today and Monday, so she's off having a jolly in Canada :o(
posted by arcticseal at 10:40 AM on April 10, 2009


I'm a Brit living in the US, and I find this slightly confusing too. For reference, I have found a few places that are closed today, for example my son's daycare. Also, I miss boxing day!

As societies age, they retain anachronisms that have little to nothing to do with their current laws or standards. The title of the UK's national anthem is "God Save The Queen." That's two right there, just in the four-word title.
Um, except the UK has a state church, and the Queen still plays a part in the law (albeit ceremonial), so there's nothing really anachronistic about God Save The Queen. The US claims to have separation of church and state, the UK does not. Which is amusingly ironic, as I find the UK generally more secular.
posted by Joh at 10:42 AM on April 10, 2009


I've usually gotten Good Friday off every place I've worked (metro Detroit area). At one company I worked at, the plant was union but the office wasn't. When MLK Day became an official holiday, the union voted to move" the holiday; they wanted to work whenever it fell in January, and have Easter Monday off instead. So the office worked that day, but the factory was closed.
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:46 AM on April 10, 2009


and non-religious people say "damnit, this is a slippery slope for making other religious holidays into federal holidays like, say Easter. Christmas shouldn't be a federal holiday!

Up here in New England we have a totally fake holiday called Evacuation Day, purportedly a celebration of the day when the British left Boston… which just so happens to fall on St. Patrick's Day. I believe the story is that the "holiday" was created because the Irish politicians needed to find a non-religious cover-story for their partying. They poured over the history books and that's all they could come up with.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:00 PM on April 10, 2009


Another data point in favor of religious holidays being completely regional. The LA Unified School District gets the High Holy Days off because every year there was an insane shortage of subs in predominantly Jewish areas. They started doing this while I was a kid...I still remember a Rosh Hashanah when I was 7 or so where only two regular teachers showed up in my school, and some three or four more managed to get subs. They crammed at least two classes full of students into my classroom. Finally they just decided, forget it, why fight it...and shut school.

On the other hand I've never had a specific holiday for Good Friday. Sometimes it fell during my spring break, sometimes it didn't.
posted by crinklebat at 10:24 PM on April 10, 2009


When I was a kid (late 80s), my school district, about an hour west of Detroit, used to have its Spring Break be 'Good Friday + the week after Easter'. At some point, they decided that was too many days off, so it became 'the week before Easter'....

As an employee in my state government, and low monkey on the seniority pole to boot, not only did I have to burn a vacation day for Dec. 26 last year, I would've had to work on Dec. 24 to boot (someone else ran out of days, so I got my break early because---gah---her dad died). I also worked Dec. 31 last year, but, hey, at least we got the 13th of freakin' October off....
posted by FlyingMonkey at 4:44 PM on April 12, 2009


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