A SUGGESTION from political party Fine Gael that Ireland's new Bank Holiday could coincide with the American holiday of Thanksgiving has not gone down well with much of the Irish public.
Since the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, there has been talk of the potential of a new Bank Holiday to thank the public and, in particular, front-line workers for their efforts, to boost the economy, and to remember the victims of the past 18 months.
Earlier this week it was confirmed that a new Bank Holiday would be introduced in Ireland, bringing the number of annual public holidays to 10.
A date for the new holiday is expected to be announced next month, and politicians are beginning to suggest dates-- either before the end of this year or towards spring of 2022-- when the new annual holiday will take place.
Yesterday afternoon, Fine Gael asked the public if they would be in favour of a "Thanksgiving Bank Holiday on Monday, 29th November", to coincide with the American tradition-- and judging by the replies, they did not get the reaction they were expecting.
— Fine Gael (@FineGael) September 29, 2021
While nobody was against a new Bank Holiday, many took issue with the date, with one person stating "There should be a public holiday on a day that has a significance for Irish people. We should not slavishly follow the Americans just so our retailers can have a Black Friday bonanza before Xmas."
Ireland does, in fact, have its own traditional 'shopping day' before Christmas: December 8, where people from across the country flock to Dublin to get gifts for their loved ones, and some suggested that this could be designated a Bank Holiday instead.
One person, Aidan O'Hanlon, joked: "If we are to insist on copying another country's holiday, please God let it be Oktoberfest".
Many others claimed this was the perfect opportunity to celebrate Ireland's only female patron saint, whose national Day on 1 February coincides with the Gaelic holiday of Imbolc, and marks the first day of Spring in the Gaelic calendar.
From 1 January until 17 March-- St Patrick's Day--there are no Bank Holidays in Ireland, and one at the beginning of February would help break up the dark, miserable winter, others argued.
Fine Gael TD for Galway East, Ciaran Cannon, writing in a separate post on Twitter, said he was suggesting the fourth Monday in November for the new Bank Holiday "so that we can share Thanksgiving weekend with 35m Irish Americans and give a much needed boost to our local businesses".
When one person responded saying he disagrees as "Thanksgiving is specific to American history and would be culturally inappropriate here", and suggested marking Imbolc instead, Mr Cannon said he was "also supportive of that ... it's an excellent option".
Others took issue with the origins of America's Thanksgiving celebrations itself, with one referencing the 'National Day of Mourning' observed by Native Americans in New England on the same day America celebrates Thanksgiving.
Sinn Féin MP Chris Hazzard wrote a message with a similar sentiment, saying the Thanksgiving proposal would "make a mockery of Ireland's long & fraternal solidarity with Native American peoples who do not celebrate, but mourn the great genocide of their ancestors".
Ireland's long and well-documented friendship with Native Americans stems back to the mid-1800's, when, after being forced along the Trail of Tears, and despite suffering from poverty and eviction, the Choctaw nation sent famine relief to Ireland.
A memorial in thanks to their efforts was erected in a small town in Cork in 2017.