As Americans bum-rushed retail stores nationwide last week to flex their consumer muscles, Poland voted to take the country in a much different direction.
Poland’s Sejm — its equivalent to the U.S. House of Representatives — voted last week to phase out shopping on Sundays in order to provide workers nationwide with a day of rest. The decision strengthens Poland’s status as a conservative, Christian European nation.
According to the Catholic Herald, the idea was initially proposed by trade unions and later supported by the ruling Law and Justice Party. The bill was passed by a vote of 254 to 156.
The bill will next go to Poland’s Senate and then to President Andzrej Duda. If approved, Sunday shopping will be restricted to the first and last Sunday of each month in 2018, the last Sunday of each month in 2019 and then a total ban in 2020 and beyond. However, some shopping will still be permitted before major holidays.
What do Poles think of the move?
According to LifeSiteNews, Christian leaders in the eastern European nation approve of the bill, but say it doesn’t go far enough.
Father Pawel Rytel-Andrianik, spokesman of the Polish Bishops Conference, said:
The bishops underscore the need to restore Sunday to society as a day of rest and time of building family ties as well as strengthening social relationships.
They point out also that Sunday rest cannot be a luxury for a chosen few but is an integral part of equal treatment for all employees. Therefore, there is an urgent need to make all Sundays free from work, just as is already the case in many European Union countries.
Meanwhile, economist Piotr Zapalowicz told LifeSiteNews: "The government’s attempt to coerce part of the population not to sell or shop on on Sundays is a disgrace and has nothing to do with Catholicism. Some people will lose their jobs or part of their income, especially those employed on hourly wage."
How does the bill align with modern Poland politics?
Despite Europe becoming increasingly progressive and socialistic, Poland remains relatively unaffected by the political change to its west.
Poles overwhelmingly reject abortion and same-sex marriage — as they hold tight to their Catholic beliefs — and they are nationalistic and very conservative. Poland has come under scrutiny from the European Union recently over its refusal to be a part of the EU's refugee resettlement program.
Why is Sunday a day of rest?
Many Christians and Jews alike observe a weekly day of rest, called the Sabbath. Jews typically observe the Sabbath from Friday night through Saturday night — known as Shabbat — while Christians typically observe the Sabbath on Sunday. The word Sabbath, which comes from the Hebrew word "shabbath," literally means "rest" or "cessation."
The Sabbath day is traced back to the creation story found in the Bible. In Genesis 2, the Bible says God rested on the seventh day of creation. He called the day "holy," which means "unique" or "set apart." God later commanded the Israelites, while at Mount Sinai, to observe a weekly day of rest as part of the terms of the covenant they entered into with God. The Israelites were to be set apart from their Canaanite neighbors for one, but were also commanded to use the day to worship the God that delivered them out from Egypt.