Archbishop of Cyprus calls for several Church holidays to be scrapped as school holidays

The days are being abused, as neither teachers nor students use the days off to go to Liturgy, the primate argues.

Nicosia, Cyprus, August 8, 2018

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His Beatitude Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus wrote to the Cypriot Minster of Education Costas Hambiaouris recently, making a suggestion that is rather surprising at first.

The Cypriot primate called on the minister to cancel several Church holidays as school holidays. However, he did so arguing that the days are being abused, since no one is using the opportunity to go to church anyways.

In his letter to the minister, posted on the website of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus, the archbishop pinpoints five Orthodox feast days that he believes should no longer be days off for educational institutions:

1. November 13—the archbishop’s name’s day celebration of St. John Chrysostom
2. January 30—the feast of the Three Holy Hierarchs
3. June 11—the feast of the Apostle Barnabas, the founder of the Cypriot Orthodox Church
4. The Ascension of the Lord
5. Local community or parish feast days

“We have noticed that few, if any, educators, take advantage of religious holidays for the purpose for which they have been established. Neither they nor their students use the time for religious worship on those days. These days are simply used as holidays,” the archbishop writes.

Abp. Chrysostomos also argued that if these days became regular school days, perhaps at least some religious character to them would be honored: “We believe that the abolition of these holidays would better serve the purpose for which they were set up as public holidays, because if it was a working day, teachers could then take at least some children to church. It will also afford additional time for teaching.”

His Beatitude had also asked for his name’s day to be removed as a school holiday in July, especially given that the Church never requested it become a school holiday in the first place, according to CyprusMail Online.

However, Yiannos Socratous, the head of a local teacher’s union, noted that the timing of the archbishop’s request is unfortunate, given that school operating regulations were already approved early last year.

“It is unfortunate that this suggestion was not put before the House education committee. We have no problem with this issue,” he said.

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