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Easter Monday Article

Good Friday's Even Better

Moving Holiday From Monday Means N.C. Joins U.S.'s Easter Parade

Staff Writer

The holiday that baseball birthed, banks have buried.
This week for the first time in more than half a century, state employees and many other N.C. workers will celebrate the Easter holiday on Good Friday instead of Easter Monday.

Legislators passed a bill moving the official Easter holiday last year, in part to ease problems for banknd financial markets in North Carolina that were out of step with the rest of the nation.North Carolina had stood alone among states in shutting down for Easter Monday.

The tradition began in 1935, when the General Assembly gave in to the state employees who wanted to attend the annual Easter Monday baseball game between cross-county rival N.C. State and Wake Forest.

"That game was one of the biggest athletic events in the state," says Secretary of State Thad Eure, then clerk of the N.C. House. "It was like college football and basketball are today. The railroads even ran excursion trains to Raleigh."

"Everybody around the Capitol was raising hell about wanting to go. The bill finally passed on April 19, just a couple of days before Easter." Although Wake Forest moved to Winston-Salem and the big game faded, the Easter Monday holiday survived until last year's legislative session.

NCNB lobbyist Mark Leggett says: "There were some traditionalists in the legislature who took the position 'if it was good enough for Mom and Dad, it's good enough for me.' When we were a more rural state, that was probably OK, but not now that our banking industry is the forefront of the Southeast and the nation."

Bankers measured the costs of the idiosyncrasy more in inconvenience than in cash.The change "makes the flow of money through North Carolina a lot easier," Leggett says. "When we observed Easter Monday, the markets were closed when we were open, and were open when the markets were closed. In effect, we were out four days. By conforming with the 49 other states, it puts us in sync with domestic and international markets."

Sen. Bill Goldston, D-Rockingham, who introduced the Easter Monday legislation, says another benefit of the change is that North Carolinians who live along the Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, and S.C. borders can coordinate their recreation with their neighbors. "People couldn't share a holiday. It was terrible," Goldston says.Complaints have been few, he says - "Got two letters one from a guy who plays golf on Monday and one from the department stores who like to hold sales."

William Chase of Ann Arbor, Mich., coauthor of the reference book "Chase's Annual Events," notes "a very strong movement in the direction of uniform holidays ... to extend the weekend and provide greater travel opportunities."

One exception: Veterans Day, which in the early 1970s was switched from its traditional celebration on Nov. 11, the anniversary of the World War I armistice, to the more convenient fourth Monday in October. By 1978, unhappy veterans had restored observance to Nov. 11.

The Associated Press contributed to this article. This article is from the Charlotte Observer, written by Lew Powell, 03/31/1988.