the history of the country that “eliminated” Christmas Code List

On the way to Christmas Eve, the most beautiful Christmas trees in the world 1:23

(CNN Spanish) – The lists of countries that do not recognize the celebration of Christmas – or even prohibit it – are usually dominated by authoritarian regimes or nations that officially profess religions other than Catholicism. However, there is a secular Latin American country that more than 100 years ago, and in full democracy, eliminated the feast of the birth of Jesus from the official calendar and replaced it with one that today, curiously, may be more representative for millions of people all over the world. the world. the world: Family Day.

Since 1919, Uruguayan law does not recognize the Christmas holiday and neither Three Kings Day, Holy Week nor the Day of the Virgin. These dates continue to be celebrated, and in a big way, but with other official names: Christmas is Family Day, Three Kings Day is Children’s Day, Holy Week is Tourism Week and the Day of the Virgin is the Day of the Beaches.

The secularization of religious festivals is just one of the many actions that the country carried out between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century to completely separate the State from the Catholic Church. This is a process so unique to the region that it has become a case study for academics.

From cemeteries to Christmas: how Uruguay got rid of religious symbols

The first significant milestone that marked this process of secularization of the country occurred already in 1861, barely 30 years after the country approved its first Constitution. That year the cemeteries, which were under the control of the Church, passed into the orbit of the State. From then on, until a Constitution formally separating the Church from the State and guaranteeing freedom of worship was approved in 1917, the Catholic institution gradually lost more and more real and symbolic power.

In 1885, for example, civil marriage was made compulsory before religious marriage. And a few years later, in 1907, the Divorce Law was approved and references to God and the Gospel in the oath of parliamentarians were suppressed. A year earlier it had been decided to remove all crucifixes from public hospitals.

One of the most significant decisions occurred in 1909, when the teaching of religion in public schools was abolished. José Pedro Varela, the promoter of secular, free and compulsory education in the country, summed up in these words the spirit that guided the decisions of the politicians of the time: “Let us not profess any cult, but let us have the religion of the future, with the gaze fixed on the star of justice, which illuminates us; let us march without ceasing preparing the establishment of democracy, in which the people turned into priest and king have freedom as their guide and God.

The process, however, was not uniform. The first decisions, according to academics such as Roger Gaymonat, did not necessarily have the intention of secularizing the country. However, starting in 1885 an “anticlerical storm” broke out and since the early years of the 20th century there was already an offensive led by the president who would shape modern Uruguay: José Batlle y Ordóñez, who ruled between 1903 and 1907 and 1911 and 1915.

Do the Uruguayans believe?

A 2014 Pew Research Center study that is still used as a reference in academic studies placed Uruguay at the head of the Latin American countries with the most people without a religious affiliation: 37% in total, divided among those who do not have a particular religion ( 24%), atheists (10%) and those who define themselves as agnostics (3%).

Pew describes Uruguay as an “outlier.” “In no other Latin American country surveyed did people without religious affiliation even make up 20%” of the population, ”he says. To put it in context, in neighboring countries these percentages rise to 11% in the case of Argentina and 8% in the case of Brazil. At the other end of the regional list is Paraguay, where barely 1% fall into these categories.

Regarding the religious affiliation of those who do declare themselves part of a religion, the Pew study records 42% Catholics, 15% Protestants and 6% belonging to “other” religions.

For Christmas lovers, tranquility: the trees are decorated and sweet bread is eaten

The fact that Christmas has been eliminated from the law does not mean that it is not celebrated: in the streets of Uruguayan cities, as in so many in the world, Christmas trees and colored lights multiply, although in public spaces are not usually present. . accompanied by nativity scenes as in other countries more identified with Catholicism.

Looking back 103 years later, replacing Christmas with Family Day may affect the spirit of the holiday much more today than those who decided to do so could have imagined then.

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