Estonia looks to remain Western on the Christmas public holidays yet out of step with Europe on the celebration of Easter, after the Constitutional Committee turned down a proposal to add two days-off to the calendar.
The Center Party had sought to add Russian Orthodox Christmas (January 7) and Easter Monday to the list of public holidays.
But the chairman of the parliamentary committee, Rait Maruste, said: "Estonia is a secular country with separation of church and state. Thus it cannot be considered justified to increase the number of religion-related holidays, especially to celebrate one holiday with a two-week gap. Nothing keeps Estonian inhabitants from celebrating the holiday in January using the Julian calendar, there is no need to establish a new national holiday."
Financial reasons were also cited.
The Center Party bill was drafted by Mihhail Stalnuhhin, who said that making the day a public holiday would increase tolerance and solidarity in society.
Estonia is one of only three European countries where Easter Monday is not a day off. Malta and Portugal, which are fervently religious, are the others. The Nordic countries provide it as a day off.
The bill will be discussed in Parliament on January 20 in the first reading, albeit with the committee's motion to shelve it.
Editor: K. RIkken