• April 07, 2018
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    Canceling Easter from the List of Palestinian National Holidays- By Yohanna Katanacho
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Canceling Easter from the List of Palestinian National Holidays- By Yohanna Katanacho

 

On March 21, 2017, the Palestinian Authority decided to declare Easter on April 16, 2017, a national holiday. The decision number 17/144/10 was issued in Jericho by the ministers of the Palestinian government under the leadership of Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah (1). Public holidays in Palestine include the following list (2):
 
Date Day Holiday
1 Jan Mon New Year's Day
13 Apr Fri Prophet Muhammad's Ascension
1 May Tue Labor Day
14 Jun Thu Eid al-Fitr Holiday
15 Jun Fri Eid al-Fitr
16 Jun Sat Eid al-Fitr Holiday
21 Aug Tue Eid al-Adha
22 Aug Wed Eid al-Adha Holiday
23 Aug Thu Eid al-Adha Holiday
11 Sep Tue Islamic New Year
15 Nov Thu Independence Day
20 Nov Tue Prophet Muhammad's Birthday
25 Dec Tue Christmas Day
 
This year the Palestinian government decided not to include Easter as a national holiday. Consequently, several Christians decided to challenge the pertinent decision. Dr. Hanna Issa, head of Islamic-Christian Council for Jerusalem and the Holy Places criticized the Palestinian government for not including Easter as a national Holiday. The council of Ramallah Churches also criticized the Palestinian government for dropping Easter out of the list of Palestinian national holidays in 2018. They demanded that the government should reconsider its decision and change it. Following is their statement:
 
The Council of Ramallah Churches -  A Statement about Cancelling Easter as a National Holiday
 
While all of us are protective of our national unity and during the season in which we became accustomed to consider Easter as a national holiday that reflects the magnanimity/genuineness of our people, we were all surprised that Easter was not announced as a national holiday in Palestine. We declare that we refuse and oppose this decision. We also affirm the importance of including Easter in the list of national holidays recognized by the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the Palestinian government.
 
Easter started in Jerusalem, our eternal capital, and reached to the ends of the earth. Many continue to carry the “holy fire” from Jerusalem to their churches in Palestine and to other countries affirming the centrality of Jerusalem for all Christians in the world. This celebration in Easter strengthens Palestinian national unity for both Christians and Muslims for it is a celebration that brings honor to Palestine and makes her a messenger to the whole world.
 
Therefore we request to seriously consider revoking the pertinent decision and instead declaring Easter as a national holiday in accordance with our custom (3).
 
On the other hand, Mrs. Rula Maayaa, Palestinian Minister of Tourism and Antiquities said that the Palestinian government considers Easter as a Christian Holiday. She pointed out the laws that the ministers approved on August 15, 2005. In its seventh article, the pertinent document states that Easter is a Christian Holiday for the employees of the government (4). The document accepts both Eastern and Western Easters. She added that all holidays in Palestine are holidays for all Palestinians. However, her last statement is not embodied in the list of official national Palestinian holidays.
 
In short, the relationship between Christians in Palestine and their government is important to both sides. It is not in the best interest of either party to escalate the tension. It is also in the best interest of both parties to seek a healthy relationship in which Palestinian Christians are continually celebrated as a genuine and important part of the Palestinian culture. Regardless of, or despite of all the sociopolitical realities, Christ is Risen!
 
 
 
(1) The decision can be found on the following site:
 
http://www.palestinecabinet.gov.ps/Website/ar/NDecrees/ViewFile.ashx?ID=a86241b5-bd45-48e5-bf8f-2559a5a01cd1.
 
(2) The list can be found on
 
https://publicholidays.me/palestine/2018-dates.
 
(3) I have translated the Arabic text which is found on facebook and several electronic newspapers. The original Arabic text follows:
 
بيان صادر عن مجلس كنائس رام الله
حول الغاء العطلة الرسمية بمناسبة عيد الفصح المجيد
في الوقت الذي ندافع فيه جميعا عن وحدتنا الوطنية، وفي الوقت الذي اعتدنا فيه ان يكون عيد الفصح المجيد عيدا وطنيا يعبر عن اصالة شعبنا، تفاجأنا جميعا بعدم الاعلان عن هذا العيد كعطلة وطنية في فلسطين. اننا نعلن اعتراضنا واحتجاجنا على هذا القرار، ونؤكد ان على اهمية ان يكون هذا العيد عيدا وطنيا يوضع على لائحة الاعياد التي تقرها منظمة التحرير الفلسطينية والحكومة الفلسطينية.
من القدس، عاصمتنا الابدية، انطلق هذا العيد ووصل الى كافة بقاع الارض. ولا يزال الكثيرون يحملون النور المقدس من القدس الى كنائسهم في كافة انحاء فلسطين والى البلدان المجاورة تعبيرا عن مركزية القدس لجميع المسيحيين في العالم. ان مكانة وقيمة هذا العيد تقوي النسيج الوطني الفلسطيني بمسيحيه ومسلميه ليكون عيدا تفخر به فلسطين وحملته فلسطين الى العالم بأسره.
لهذا نطالب المسؤولين اخذ الموضوع بجدية والعودة عن القرار واعلان عيد الفصح المجيد عيدا وطنيا حسب ما تعودنا علية في بلدنا الحبيب.
 
مجلس كنائس رام الله
 
(4) The original Arabic document can be found on the following link:
 
http://muqtafi.birzeit.edu/pg/getleg.asp?id=14914
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