Wednesday, 8 April 2009


It's some years now since the seventh weekend after Easter was nationally referred to as Whitsun, presumably on the basis that too few people any longer observed (or even knew the origin of) the feast of Pentecost.

Anyway, now it's Easter that's under threat with BBC announcers currently referring to the forthcoming weekend as The Bank Holiday Weekend.

I mean, I'm not sure bankers deserve any holidays!

Joking apart, I'm very happy to be living in a pluralist society and to acknowledge the importance of all kinds of religious feasts - which is why, today, I send Passover greetings to all my Jewish friends - but demoting the old festivals to totally secularised occasions does nothing to foster understanding and tolerance between religions but, instead, encourages ignorance of our various cultural origins.

My own, once-strong, religious affiliations are now far less secure, but I still value and respect all those who are engaged on a spiritual quest and regret the tendency to marginalise the world's faiths from our everyday society.


Suzanne said...

They'll be calling Christmas something else in the not too distant future & people will wonder why the country grinds to a halt for a week at the end of the year!
Do you know what I wear around my neck? A chain with a crucifix and the Hand of Fatima TOGETHER! This is my pledge for ALL faiths to get on!
This being said, I have just discovered another aspect to (in my case Christian) faith. I now have somebody to go to Easter Mass with (& other masses too) - it's a wonderful feeling!

Brian Sibley said...

I realise that what I am about to say is too simplistic but all religions have something in common and whatever that is (however basic) could be the beginning of, if nothing else, respect.

For example: the meal that Jews commemorate tonight is the same meal that Jesus and his disciples would have eaten at what Christians refer to as The Last Supper and which they will memorialise tomorrow, Thursday, evening.

One of the most moving experiences I have ever had was in visiting Singapore where Buddhist and Hindu temples stand cheek by jowl with mosques and Roman Catholic churches. I visited them all and was leaving a famous Buddhist shrine when the man who looked after the place ran after me to tell me that I should be sure to visit the Hindu temple on the other side of the street.

I wonder how many vergers at the Church of England's Westminster Abbey recommend visitors to make an additional stop up the road at the Roman Catholic Westminster Cathedral, or vice versa...?

Sheila said...

Suzanne, they are already there! Last November Oxford City Council decided that it would be putting up festive lights in the city and taking part in other celebrations as part of a Winter Light Festival, rather than as a celebration of Christmas. This was, so help us, to avoid upsetting anyone - and resulted in everyone being upset!

Suzanne said...

Brian, there is nothing wrong with being "simplistic". I am fascinated by Islam and Maghreb. If people only knew how much we have in common. Maybe we should just all try to be more like Hobbits!

Eudora said...

I am agree with you. Is difficult to find more respect between the religions, and curiously, between the "great" european religions and churches. Unfortunately, the history have too many episodes of violence for religion reasons in our continent. Look the history of my country, with that obsession to demonstrate that Spain was more catholic that other european countries.

Ecumenism, that is the utopia, share the treasures of all religion, as cultural events or, if you wish, faith events.

Elliot Cowan said...

Rebecca and I celebrated an incredibly disrespectful Passover with her mother and family.

I was very happy with it that way.

Brian Sibley said...

Elliot, my friend! How good to hear from you! Mazal tov!

Elliot Cowan said...

Hey Brian.
I'm actually here most days but only leave a comment if I have something pointless to say.

Brian Sibley said...

Pointlessness is always welcome!