Ascension Day = Holiday in France
Yesterday was a public holiday in France. When I was told about this around two weeks ago, my first reaction was “Yee haw, a vacation day!” Then it dawned on me that France has a day off in June on a Thursday. So, I asked my colleagues what the heck was happening on June 2nd that was allowing France to have a day off. Their reply was, “Ascension Day, of course”. Just like that.
Ascension Day?? Are you kidding?? It that, like, a real holiday?? I responded just that way, but with the slow motion of words, louder and with an upswing in the voice on the last word and with a wrinkled forehead since I was in question of if this was real or they were putting me on.
They assured me it was the real thing.
Now correct me if I am wrong, but Ascension Day is a religious day for Catholics (other religions, as well, but predominately Catholics celebrate it as a holy day). It represents the ascension of Christ into heaven after he rose from the dead.
I know that Catholicism is the most predominant religion in France. In fact, it is for most of Europe. Here’s the thing, France is supposed to be a country of total separation of church and state. If that is so, why are businesses and all government institutions closed on that day? I was super confused. France is making some rules here and not following them. Why?
Again, I went to my colleagues to ask, “What is the deal”. They said that in this day and age France recognizes it as a public holiday because of its historical significance. It was a day celebrated long ago when religion was deeply rooted in France and the practice of religion was common place. Since it was a day of “non work” for such a long time in history, France continues in that tradition.
Well, okay. I guess they have their reasons and I am not about to diss on history or anything.
In any case, I got the day off. I am not Catholic, but thanks to the historical importance of this religion I was able to reap the benefits.
One thing is a bummer, though. I had to go back to work on Friday. Just for that one day. Can you believe it? I know for sure that we were the only ones in our building that day. Everyone else was like, “Why go to work for just one day? Let’s make it a four day weekend. We’re in France. We can do that!”
You know what I say to that?