RIGA 's On May 25, the Latvian parliament in the second reading has passed amendments that will make August 15 a new public holiday in Latvia, Baltic News Service reported.
From now on, August 15 will be the Day of the Great Mara, the Latvian traditional equivalent of St. Mary in Christianity, when every thousands of Catholics come to a cathedral in Aglona, eastern Latvia, to celebrate the Annunciation of Virgin Mary.
In words of Andrejs Naglis, an MP from the Christian-oriented Latvia's First Party, the leader of Latvia's Roman Catholics Cardinal Janis Pujats, has personally appealed to declare August 15 as a public holiday.
The big surprise was that after heated debates, lawmakers also voted in support of marking March 8 as the International Women's Solidarity Day. Parliament speaker Ingrida Udre from ruling Greens and Farmers Union supported the proposal to mark March 8 in the future saying that women have been fighting for their rights for centuries and that it would be only befitting to honor them on March 8.
"It is an honor to Latvia's society that women have taken such a prominent role in politics, business and other spheres," Udre said. The proposal drew strong support from left-wing lawmakers who hailed Udre's speech with ovation.
However, MPs from nationalist and center-right parties, criticized March 8 celebrations as a "day of withered tulips and drunk men". Juris Dobelis from Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK said that those "who are no longer able to love real women turn to loving virtual women once a year".
After the vote MP Janis Lagzdins, chairman of the parliament ruling People's Party, said the approved bill includes very contradictory holidays, and called on lawmakers to suspend the session until next Wednesday. His proposal was backed by a majority of MPs. The parliament also approved a proposal on marking Russian Orthodox and Old Believers' Christmas on January 6 and 7.
Lawmakers also supported a draft provision that in case a public holiday, except for Easter and Pentecost, falls in Saturday or Sunday, the next workday is made a day off.
The parliament is yet to pass the amendments on the new public holidays in the final reading.