Palestinian Authority: Easter will not be national holiday

Palestinian Authority: Easter will not be national holiday

By Dima Abumaria/

In reversal from last year, Christians can miss work but no national holiday.

In a departure from last year and a return to the custom of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in previous years, PA workers have been informed that Easter is not being considered a Palestinian national holiday this year. The main impact of the announcement, means that unlike Christmas — which is a recognized Palestinian national holiday and is, therefore, celebrated both religiously and secularly — Easter is considered a normal work day for all except those who are of the Christian faith and are free to miss work without penalty.

Several reasons have been given for the about-face, Christian and Muslim Palestinians offering The Media Line explanations ranging from the feeling that it is inappropriate to be celebrating while the lethal confrontations are under way along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel; administratively, that there are too many versions – and respective dates of observance of the holiday – which renders Easter too difficult to set dates for its public observance; and the belief that the PA leadership chooses not to run afoul of fervent Islamic groups that deny the basic premise that Jesus Christ was crucified on that day.

Palestinian official Hanna Issa told The Media Line that it’s wrong “to stop any religious or national event. As Palestinians, we must celebrate our [national] holidays and do our duties in spite regardless of Muslim or Christian holidays.”

Expanding on the national mood as a reason to suspend public celebrations, Issa opined that, “What happens is that sometimes when there are martyrs at the same time as a holiday, the wise people from each religion decide to cancel a certain celebration, which is okay. In Palestine, Christians and Muslims are united; there is no racism or clashing over religious beliefs.”

Ghassan Toubasi, a Palestinian activist who is Christian, told The Media Line that, “We need to differentiate between the celebrations that are intended to show off and the religious symbolic celebrations that became part of the Palestinian heritage.” Celebrations such as Christmas and Easter, he suggested, “are not only for Christians; Muslims participate in these events too in Palestine; it became a national tradition.”

“I don’t see any conflict between the religious events and the political situation we have in Palestine. Celebrating holidays isn’t forbidden. The Palestinian traditions must continue, despite anything; this forms a way of resistance. Life must go on; I disagree with canceling the celebrations of Palm Sunday last week. These celebrations confirm on the cohesion of the Palestinian National fabric.”

A senior official in the PA told The Media Line under promise of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak on record that, “There is no justification for not considering Easter a national holiday, unless the Prime Minister’s office doesn’t understand the sole purpose of Easter.

Another senior source explained that since 1994 and until now Easter is not considered a national holiday; the governmental bodies remain working while the Christian employees take days off for the religious holiday.

“The national Palestinian holidays are the Christmas, Adha and Al-Feter [following Ramadan].”

“Only one time it was considered a national holiday, which is last year, because all of the Christian communities agreed on one date for Easter and it was an exception.”

Father Elias Awwad, the head of the Orthodox Roman Church in Ramallah confirmed that he and other Christian leaders met with Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah on Tuesday, April 3, and asked him to readdress his “unfair” decision. “Until now, he told The Media Line, “I didn’t hear from him.”

Sat, 04/07/2018 - 13:26
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