The other day I was asked to translate a library notice about opening hours over the holiday period. What caught my attention and gave me more than a moment’s pause for thought was the fact that the original text referred to “Setmana Santa”.
You may think that I’m going to write about the difference between “Setmana Santa” and “Pasqua”, but you would be wrong. What intrigued me was the reference to a religious celebration (of one particular religion), considering the fact that I work in a non-confessional institution.
Of course, it is undeniable that these days off work are timed to coincide with the Roman Catholic Easter calendar and it is also the case that most of us still identify with this particular religious tradition, even if we no longer go to church with any regularity.
The use of Christian terms, however, to refer to secular holiday periods is a contradiction. It is not inclusive; it responds to the traditions of the past. Some readers may feel that this is not an important issue. But if we aspire to an inclusive use of language, which reflects the whole community and our regulatory framework, we should certainly try to do better.
This problem has already been addressed in other countries. For example, in non-religious centres in the United States of America (where Christian, Muslim, Jewish and humanist sensibilities, among others, have to be borne in mind) it is customary to speak of the “winter vacation” and the “spring break”. Could we do something similar here? Shouldn’t we? All suggestions are welcome.
And whatever your opinion, Tradiling wishes all its readers a great holiday!