I've worked for the State of Texas for ... 23 years (full-time). In that time, as far as I can recall, Good Friday has never been a stated holiday, but many times throughout the years we have been given a half-day holiday, the afternoon off. We are almost never notified of this in advance...usually it's Good Friday morning before a message comes. It used to come by phone, and now, of course, it comes by e-mail. Sometimes the Governor announces it (the joke was that that only happened in election years), and sometimes the university president.
On Tuesday of this week (Tuesday!) we received an email that the university will close at noon on Friday, April 2. It was sent on behalf of our interim president, and it gave the following reason for the closure: "In appreciation of the dedication and hard work by UNT faculty and staff and to provide an opportunity to plan for a long weekend..."
Now, I’m very happy to have Good Friday afternoon off. In fact, I’ve been thinking that in the future I need to plan ahead to take the afternoon off, as a general rule. Holy Week is taxing enough for choristers (to say nothing of clergy…!) without working a full day on that day. I will be going to church as planned, that doesn’t change, but this announcement gives me a little down time for prayer and reflection.
It wasn’t until yesterday that I realized that nowhere in this announcement is mention made of why this particular day had been chosen. I’m sure that past announcements referred to Good Friday, sure of it. But we are ever so much more politically correct now.
I have a friend in the office who has told me that she felt that being open about her Christian faith was being discouraged. I have never felt that way, and I wear a big ole cross every day too. Maybe I’m just oblivious! This friend said she’d been attending an on-campus training right after the half-day holiday announcement was released. She said the trainer asked the group what they thought the reasoning was for granting the holiday, and that
EVERYONE stated something like, ‘it was a reward for hard work,’ ‘gratis time for losing a whole week for spring break,’ (we used to get the whole week off, now we get one day), ‘proactive attempt to keep staff from going postal this time of year,’ etc. I was sitting in front row – RIGHT in front of Trainer, and she looked at me and said, ‘And your take?’ I replied,
‘I think it is the administration’s secular way of giving the Christians their Good Friday holiday. But whatever way YOU look at it, it is a “good Friday” for everyone...'
She smiled and winked.
Strange days, indeed….I wonder if we will start getting time off for Eid?