“It was a long time ago that we reviewed it. Almost all of our public holidays, except for Midsummer and May 1st, have a Christian religious connection. Sweden is today a multicultural society, and it is worth looking at how it can be done,” Social Democrat party secretary Carin Jämtin said to the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) daily.
It is probable that any decision to introduce a Muslim holiday would mean the replacement of an existing public holiday.
Carin Jämtin stated that the party does not believe that it is possible to add to the current number of public holidays, but was unwilling to speculate on possible alternatives.
Jämtin was however prepared to offer a suggestion on which day could serve as a Muslim holiday.
“One could consider whether Eid, the Muslim Christmas Eve, could be a public holiday,” she said, referring to Eid-al-Fitr, the feast at the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting.
The Swedish Humanist Association (Humanisterna) described the idea to introduce a Muslim holiday as “absurd”.
“Most people in Sweden are secularised. For example they don’t celebrate Christmas for Christian, religious reasons. It is simply an occasion to meet, eat good food and socialize. The same is the case for Muslims,” said the association’s chairperson Christer Sturmark.
“Christmas is furthermore not a Christian holiday originally. It was the day when the Romans celebrated the sun god.”
Sturmark also said that neither does he want to have a day for the secular community, instead favouring a pool of holidays which an individual can use whenever he or she so desires.
“Then you could take time off when you want. If you want to celebrate Ramadan then you could do so on one of the days from the pool,” he said.
Sweden currently has 11 official public holidays (röda dagar) – New Year’s Day, Epiphany, Good Friday, Easter Monday, May 1st (International Workers’ Day), Ascension Day, National Day, Midsummer’s Day, All Saints’ Day, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
There are a further eleven days designated as public holidays or flag days which do not carry the right to a day off from work. In practice many of these days include a half or full day’s holiday, often taken on the day before.