Friday, April 18, 2014

Happy Easter Weekend!

Good Friday

Today (when this post goes live) is Good Friday 2014. Dublin is getting excited for the big Easter holiday... even though Ireland (Dublin in particular) seems to be Catholic in name (and some antiquated laws) alone. Culturally, the country is getting quite progressive, but a good number of theocratic traditions live on.

On Good Friday, no alcohol can be sold in Ireland. Period. Except... well... not really...

Let me pass it on to our local Dublin hero Joerg, author of the weekly Dublin Event Guide.

Good Friday – The oddest day of the year!
This week is Good Friday, an important day for all Christians in the religious year and a very odd day for everybody in Ireland. Why is it odd?
Well, with the big role the catholic religion plays in Ireland (Education is still dominated by catholic institutions, the majority of laws and rules are directly or indirectly influenced by the catholic church), you would think that Good Friday is a public holiday, but it isn’t. It is a bank holiday, but no public holiday. Which means that most of us will have to work on that day.
On the other hand, when it comes to pubs, the day is even odder. Suddenly it is soooo important that there are special laws for it: Pubs are not allowed to open on Good Friday. (And it doesn’t matter if you are catholic or not, the all-caring Irish state is protecting you from yourself so that you don’t accidentally commit a sinful act of consuming alcohol on that day.) BUT….wait…it is permitted to sell alcohol IF it is in connection with a substantial meal, so that travelling people won’t have to miss their alcohol. And last year a number of Greyhound stadiums got a permission to sell alcohol. Hotels are allowed to sell alcohol, but restaurants are not. Mad!
All a bit contradictory or hypocritical? You bet!
Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining about the fact that people have a day less per year to get drunk. But this is a LAW in 2014, which means that the police is obliged to enforce it! Odd, outdated and just plain bonkers!
And how do (too) many people in Ireland react to this oddness? With even odder behaviour! Watch Off-licenses on Thursday evening!! Some will have queues outside, others will just be packed. ALL will be super busy. Why? Because, “OMG, the pubs will be closed on Friday and how could I survive without alcohol for a WHOLE day?”
Dublin residents and prospective Dublin visitors, go on over to the Dublin Event Guide page for an expansive list of free events going on all over town. Without Joerg's help, we wouldn't be able to report on as many of the fun (and free!) activities in Dublin.

 Also, an expat blogger friend of mine wrote a more personal piece about her experience with alcohol and the Irish. Another paradox with the presumably alcohol-loving Irish and their antiquated and puritanical laws. Where are we, Pennsylvania?

Even the Irish Independent, one of the national newspapers, marks one of the interesting less-than-religious exceptions to the rule.

In 1927, the Intoxicating Liquor Act enshrined in law that alcoholic drink could not be sold on Christmas Day, Good Friday and St Patrick's Day.
The law relating to St Patrick's Day was later repealed in the Intoxicating Liquor Act 1960 to cater for foreign visitors coming to celebrate the national feast day.
Is this evidence that Ireland sacrificed some of her religious principles to allow the tidal wave of cash to pour in on Paddy's Day?

[Edit] An interesting editorial published today in the Independent approaches the issue from an Atheist's point of view. Should the State govern the morality of her people? It's murky water in any country.

Battle of Clontarf Anniversary Coming Up

The actual 1000th anniversary of the battle is April 23, but the battle took place on what was Good Friday, 1014. Look for at least one post about the various lectures and activities I've attended this month. Difficult to believe we have records here of something happening one thousand years ago. Details are sketchy and steeped in legend and exaggeration as I've learned, but that just makes it a better story, right?

Easter Monday

Here's a very practical idea (for Christians) that probably wouldn't fly in America, but it sure works well in a country with an official state-sanctioned religion. Here, the day after Easter Sunday is a national holiday. So many American Christians have to travel on Easter Sunday to be back at work on the following Monday. Many schools schedule their "Spring Breaks" around the Easter weekend, in hopes of making travel easier for Christian families and crossing their fingers that Passover week falls on Easter weekend (as it does this year, happy Passover!) Non-school employee Christians have to make those big family drives back home on the holiday. 

Here in Ireland, Good Friday is (sorta...) a holiday, schools are off for a full week before and after Easter, and Easter Monday is a shut-'er-down kind of holiday. We aren't doing anything particularly travel-heavy this year, but we'll take advantage of a day off whenever we can, whatever the religious, secular, or just-because reason!

Happy Easter if you celebrate it!

Sara and Cory

...You mean Sara and Cory, right?


  1. Happy Easter ! And thanks for mentioning me in your post, I'm flattered ! I read about the battle of Clontarf recently, and if the weather is nice it might be a really good day out. I too am quite amazed to think there would be some sort of records about what happened a 1000 years ago... The Wikipedia page about the battle is interesting, especially about the way Brian Boru died, which is not very "heroic"...

    1. Certainly there must be 1000+ year history of the Bretons? Amazing stuff to learn. Keep enjoying the nice weather!


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