By Christoph Pauly
Nothing is sacred to Pedro Passos Coelho, not even Carnival. Portugal's prime minister expects government employees at their desks and working on Entrudo, the traditional high point of the country's Carnival celebrations, which falls on this Tuesday.
This is "not the time to talk about tradition," the conservative head of state has commanded those of his citizens who see the move as an attack on their culture. Rather, he says, they should stop "whining" about austerity measures. It's time, the prime minister adds, to break free of old structures and to change "lazy and sometimes self-involved patterns of behavior."
Fans of Carnival celebrations are not the only ones affected -- churchgoers and nationalists will have to make bitter sacrifices as well. In response to this national state of emergency, the Portuguese government plans to do away with four public holidays. Corpus Christi and Assumption are to be crossed off the calendar without a replacement, and public holidays celebrating Portugal's first republic and the 1640 end to its union with Spain can no longer be commemorated, as is customary, with family celebrations and an extended siesta.