The link between religious Holy Days and national holidays in many nations is clear but also presents challenges for those of us who celebrate the same or similar religious Holy Days in a different fashion. Few people are aware that Orthodox Christians often celebrate Easter on a different day to the day when other Christians do. The link between the two Christian celebrations of Easter and the Jewish Passover is something that many of us are very aware of, but it does lead to some people sending their Jewish neighbours Easter cards which may be a well intentioned action by the sender but could cause great offence to the people receiving the cards. The celebrations over Christmas are particularly interesting as most Christians throw their lot into the celebrations of the birth of Jesus on 25th December and give gifts to one another. However the gift giving tradition is actually linked to the arrival of the Magi or Wise Men in the stable, and the religious holiday linked to that part of the story is Epiphany, the 6th January or the 12th day of Christmas when the 12 drummers do their drumming. In some nations the more ‘faithful’ focus on Epiphany is honoured in a way that few of us really appreciate. For most of us the 12th day of Christmas is the day when we traditionally take down our decorations, although I saw some Christmas Trees being taken to the tree refuges in Brighton on Christmas Eve, which shows how varied our practices really are.
One nation that treats Epiphany as a major event is Belgium where the day is a national holiday. Although their holidays are not generally well known, one of our Politicians appears to have made it a New Years resolution to change that. Nigel Farage tweeted yesterday:
“It’s January 6th, I’m here in Brussels. The roads are empty, streets are empty. Apparently not much appetite to get back to work.”
There was no smiley face or LOL, and one can only assume that this was perhaps the first time since May 1999 when Nigel became an MEP when he has returned to work as early as the 6th December. However apart from celebrating Nigels increased efficiency which some were doing on twitter, there is a serious issue. Nigel is keen to ensure that people working and living in the UK are prepared to understand our language and customs, and yet here he is as a ‘statesman’ poking fun at another nation where following his decision to stand in an election, you and I pay him a substantial sum to work. If he cannot take the time to understand their most basic customs then his calls for immigrants to understand our traditions are clearly hypocritical, unless of course he wants all people and all nations to ultimately do things his way?