Parliament favors new holidays

  • 2006-05-31
  • From wire reports
RIGA - A new public holiday commemorating the Day of the Great Mara could be introduced this summer if Parliament passes the amendment in its third reading. The Great Mara is Latvia's traditional equivalent of St. Mary. Every year on Aug. 15, thousands of Catholics march to a cathedral in Aglona, eastern Latvia, to celebrate the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary. Parliament passed an ammendment to make the holiday official in its second reading on May 25.

Lawmakers also voted to mark March 8 as International Women's Solidarity Day, causing an uproar in Parliament.
Parliamentary Speaker Ingrida Udre, who represents the Greens and Farmers Union, supported the proposal, saying that women have been fighting for their rights for centuries, and that it would be only fitting to honor them on March 8.
"It is an honor to Latvian 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 a standing ovation.
But MPs from nationalist and center-right parties criticized the move, calling March 8 nothing more than a "day of withered tulips and drunk men."

"Men who are no longer able to love real women turn to loving virtual women once a year," Juris Dobelis from Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK said with sarcasm. After the vote, MP Janis Lagzdins, chairman of the People's Party, said the approved bill included "very contradictory holidays," and called on lawmakers to suspend the session until May 24. His proposal was backed by a majority of MPs. Parliament also approved a proposal to mark the Russian Orthodox and Old Believers' Christmas holiday on Jan. 6 and 7, and supported a draft provision that all public holiday - except Easter and Pentecost 's that fall on Saturdays or Sundays deem a free day from work on Monday. The amendments have yet to be passed by Parliament in a final reading.