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Is multiculturalism being used to take our holidays away? by Sally Pepper

Discussing a possible pre film lunch with a friend tomorrow, I pointed out that there will probably be no cafes open because it is Good Friday. My friend answered that she thought that it was completely ridiculous in our “multicultural “ society for shops and cafes to be closed on Good Friday. I have heard this multicultural argument before and I don’t buy it.

I took the opposite viewpoint, saying that if we do not have days that are different from others, then every day will ultimately be the same, and every hour in the day will also. I am taking advantage of the cinema being open but I would not object if it were closed for the day. Although I am not religious, I have sufficient relevant education to know that “Good Friday” is the most sombre day in the Christian calendar and one which some Christians may want to observe and they may welcome the opportunity to have a break from commerce.

"Australians take too many holidays"

My friend did not accept this and said that she thought people in Australia had too many holidays (!) I said I did not agree and that I believed that people worked more now than they did in the past because now two breadwinners and mortgage or rent payers are needed in most households, whereas 50 years ago, one was enough. She answered that couples are doing this in order to purchase more luxuries. I said that they are forced to do this because of the burden of housing debt or rent payment. She finally acknowledged this was true.

What was interesting to me was that multiculturalism in my friend’s mind was the reason that “Good Friday” should not be observed by businesses (well at least not by places that should be serving us lunch!!) One could argue that multiculturalism should mean more closures of work places as more and more different festivals and holy days need to be observed and acknowledged, not fewer!

Where would my friend’s idea have come from?

Easter penalty rate complaints

Recently there has been a debate in the media about penalty rates for working over Easter. Businesses have complained how expensive it is for them to pay staff to work at double rates or whatever they get. But take away penalty rates and then every day is the same. Should this be so? Should every hour of every day be treated the same? Should a person working on night shift which is very hard on the body be paid the same as someone on day shift which is congruent with a natural diurnal rhythm ?

I think it is a mistake to dismiss the pause that holidays such as Easter allow the nation as simply part of an arcane observance for only part of the community and which has an element of political incorrectness. Seasons are what give daily life an awareness of the passing of time. Easter is said to have its origins in Pagan festivals around the spring equinox in the northern hemisphere. It’s the autumn equinox in Australia, but it’s still the equinox and thus a change of season. I believe it is commercial interests that would seek to abolish deference to Good Friday and absolutely nothing to do with inclusiveness of those to whom the Easter festival is not relevant.

Multiculturalism should mean more holidays, not fewer

Let’s claim all the additional holidays that different cultures have on offer rather than abolishing the ones we have enjoyed for over 200 years in Australia. Let’s not allow anyone to persuade us to create an undifferentiated, unending total focus on work, business and profit - year in, year out. Editor comment: Employees in Japan and India have the highest number of public holidays while those in the UK, Netherlands and Australia, the least, according to a global comparison of statutory public holidays. See


This book will be put on my 'must read' list.

(New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000). In a groundbreaking book based on vast data, Putnam shows how we have become increasingly disconnected from family, friends, neighbors, and our democratic structures– and how we may reconnect.

Putnam warns that our stock of social capital – the very fabric of our connections with each other, has plummeted, impoverishing our lives and communities.

If we are all going to celebrate "our own" festivals, does this not not further erode social cohesion? Putnam comes to this conclusion (but takes great pains to try and interpet things according to the Politically Correct doctrine). People supposedly say this future direction of society enriches us, but I think it is the exact opposite. People who do not partake, nor care for the festivals may enjoy attendance, but it is only a superficial level of participation.

There are an endless number of 'multicultural' festivals, parades, and in each and everyone, participation is shallow. They are nothing more than spectator events to most people. Culture is brought to the level of "My Kitchen Rules", a way to pass time and be entertained. Something to watch. A 'show' to be put on by the culture in question to entertain onlookers.

As a result, the cultural and social ties which bind people are reduced to spectacles and recipes, and social systems and structures which would have once served a purpose for social organisation and conveyance of information, knowledge and custom, are stripped of any gravity. This not only degrades the culture that people claim they are 'appreciating', but the image that Australians have of their own culture, philosophy and customs. They are rendered non-existent, and all of a sudden, long held values developed and nurtured by philosophers such as John Stuart Mill or Voltaire, disappear.

Very good analysis, Dennis.