“Declaring Good Friday a public holiday raises awareness of the fact that it is worth thinking about the deeper meaning of this day”, the Minister of Human Capacities said in an interview for the Hungarian Reformed Church’s weekly magazine Reformátusok Lapja.
According to Zoltán Balog, making Good Friday a public holiday reinforces Christian roots and the deeper meaning of the holiday is that “there an be no success without sacrifice and no resurrection without death, and that there can be no Easter without Good Friday”.
“Suffering can have a deeper meaning, even if one of the messages of the consumer society is that suffering can be eliminated with suitable medication and via a balanced diet, lots of rest and a clever life strategy”, he pointed out. “However, the Christian message is that suffering is part of life, the antechamber of success, in which there can also be found meaning. This is not the sanctification of all suffering or a slavish resignation, but a courageous facing up to suffering. If this new national public holiday makes even just a few people think about this, it will have been a success”, he said.
Mr. Balog said the significance of the decision would appear gradually. “Good Friday is a public holiday beginning this year, meaning people don’t have to go to work, but for it to be a real day of celebration is something much deeper, and developing new attitudes requires time”, he explained.
“Declaring Good Friday a public holiday was enabled by the country’s economic performance, but the reason this particular day was chosen was because it not only has Christian significance, but also Protestant significance”, he said, explaining that Good Friday has become an independent day of celebration thank to Protestantism, and especially German Protestantism. However, according to the Minister this decision “can be a good thing for everybody”, for Catholics, Protestants, Evangelicals, the non-religious, young people, families, workers and employers alike.
In reply to a question on whether the Government was planning the introduction of further public holidays, the Minister said that no such measures were planned during the current government cycle, but if it is made possible by the state of the economy, the possibility could be reviewed at a later date. In addition to 24 December, Ascension Day on 15 August is also important to Catholics and could be considered, he said. 31 October has been removed from the agenda however, “after the Reformed and Evangelical churches showed restraint and themselves asked that Good Friday be made a public holiday rather than Reformation Day”, he added.
The Minister also spoke about the renewal of the agreement between the State and the Reformed Church, explaining that the goal of the amendment is to further reinforce the conditions for the undertaking of public duties by the Reformed Church, with particular attention to reinforcing the status of pastors who perform their duties abroad, and not just within the Carpathian basin, but worldwide.