Seriously, Another Holiday?

Today is another holiday, one that I had not only no reasonable ability to foresee but also which I had never even heard of before. It’s Ascension Day, or as they say here, Kenaikan Isa Almasih. Ascension Day. I had to look that one up to make sure I was getting this right, but of course it’s not hard to figure out, it celebrates the ascension of Jesus into heaven forty days after Easter. According to Wikipedia, it is celebrated as a public holiday in Finland, Sweden, Belgium, Austria, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Vanuatu…and the world’s largest Muslim country, Indonesia.

I’m not in principle opposed to holidays, but I do believe that two in the space of three weeks is too many. This has practical consequences, ranging from the slightly annoying to the truly inconvenient. Slightly annoying: no newspaper this morning, which forces me to read my pleasure book (Infinite Jest) over breakfast, which is only a problem in the sense that I don’t have much of it left and I’m trying to save enough to keep myself distracted on the plane rides home. Truly inconvenient: I have an interview way down in the southern outskirts of Jakarta today, in a satellite city known as Depok. Depok is far, far enough that when I go there I prefer to take a train rather than a cab (the cab’s just too expensive). But of course, on a public holiday like today the train schedules are totally unpredictable. So that will force me to take a cab anyway. But the real kicker, of course, is that since it’s a holiday the traffic will be in all likelihood pretty light, which means that the cab ride might not take nearly as long, and accordingly might not be quite so expensive.

More food pictures are available here. As always, click Next to get to the new ones. Today I bring you gurame goreng, ayam bakar, buntil, es alpukat, and some famous nasi goreng kambing.

Posted in Food and Drink, Indonesia
2 comments on “Seriously, Another Holiday?
  1. Rationalman says:

    National public holidays for religious purposes should be annuled. They are the height of hypocrisy as the majority of people dont care about the reasons (most would not know what the hell these are about), only the time off.
    These holidays cost countries billions of dollars in lost productivity, heck there are enough week ends in a year allready, plus annual leave, that’s more than enough time off.
    If you are of a particular religious persuasion then that’s your problem, you take all the holidays you want (paid or unpaid) but why should everyone in the community be inconvenience because you want to celebrate ridiculous events that happened (..or for the rest of the population, never happened) thousand of years ago. Hey if I believed elephants ruled the skies a thousand years ago, should I expect everyone to celebrate it, and drop tools to go to the beach or chant in some building?
    The quicker the world embraces Atheism, the better we all be for it. We can then finally all live in peace and free of these archaic practice.

  2. TP says:

    Thanks for the comment. I’m not sure I agree with your conclusion, even if I am sympathetic to the sentiment. I don’t think that getting rid of religion would solve most problems that Indonesia (or any other country) faces. I do tend to think that officially sanctioned religious observances are a little silly, but then again, if I were to make a list of priorities for Indonesia’s government to reform, excessive holidays would be pretty far down it.

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