Holidays: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A holiday is a day designated as having special significance for which individuals, a government, or a religious group have deemed that observation is warranted. Examples of types of holidays include:

  • Official or unofficial observances of religious, national, or cultural significance, often accompanied by celebrations or festivities
  • A general leave of absence or vacation from a regular occupation for rest or recreation

A holiday can also refer to a specific trip or journey for the purposes of recreation or tourism. People often take a vacation during specific holiday observances, or for specific festivals or celebrations. Vacations or holidays are often spent with friends or family.

A person may take a longer break from work, such as a sabbatical, gap year, or career break.




The word "holiday" comes from the Old English word hāligdæg. The word originally referred only to special religious days. In modern use, it means any special day of rest or relaxation, as opposed to normal days off work or school. The word derived from the notion of "Holy Day", and gradually evolved to its current form.


In the United Kingdom, vacation once specifically referred to the long summer break taken by the law courts and, later, universities—a custom introduced by William the Conqueror from Normandy where it facilitated the grape harvest. In the past, many upper-class families moved to a summer home for part of the year, leaving their usual family home vacant.

Regional meanings

As a trip

Vacation, in English-speaking North America, describes recreational travel, such as a short pleasure trip, or a journey abroad. People in Commonwealth countries also use the phrase, going on leave or going on holiday.

Canadians often use vacation and holiday interchangeably referring to a trip away from home or time off work. In Australia, the term can refer to a vacation or a public holiday.

As an observance

In most of the English-speaking world, including North America, holiday may refer to a day set aside by a nation or culture (in some cases, multiple nations and cultures) for commemoration, celebration, or other observance. Schools, business, and workplaces often close for holidays.


In Australia all usage of the word holiday means time away from normal employment or school. The meaning is further subdivided into two major sub-categories:

1. Public holiday, a day decreed by government as a day when the bulk of the population is not normally expected to be at work, such as Australia Day, Anzac Day or Christmas Day.

2. A trip or stay away from one's normal home. This is similar to what is described elsewhere as a vacation, but that word is rarely used in Australia.

Days referred to as holidays in other places but which do not involve formally decreed time away from work especially for that day, such as Valentine's Day and Mother's Day, are not described as holidays in Australia.

Employment issues

Most countries around the world have labor laws that mandate employers give a certain number of paid time-off days per year to workers. Nearly all Canadian provinces require at least two weeks, while in most of Europe the minimum is higher. US[1] Where law does not mandate vacation time, many employers nonetheless offer paid vacation, typically 10 to 20 work days, to attract employees. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 and U.S. federal wage and hour laws, employers are not required to pay terminating employees for unused vacation time still on the books. On the state level this varies widely among the 50 states and District of Columbia. 21 states require payouts for terminating employees. These include California, Maine and Wyoming. Other states rely on the wording of the employer's vacation policy to enforce payment. These include Maryland, Minnesota and North Carolina. If the company vacation policy states that vacation will be lost upon termination, the state will not consider the vacation hours as wages. Still other states do not even address the issue. These include Alabama and Mississippi. Kansas and Kentucky rely on the outcome of court cases to determine vacation payout. And Massachusetts, as the result of a recent court case (Electronic Data Sys. Corp. v. Attorney General,Mass. No. JC-0260, 6/11/09) now requires involuntarily separated employees to be paid unused vacation but did not apply the ruling to employees who terminate voluntarily. Additionally, most American employers provide paid days off for national holidays, such as Christmas, New Years, Independence Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving.

While US federal and most state law provides for leave such as medical leave, there are movements attempting to remove vacation time as a factor in the free-market labor pool by requiring mandatory vacation time.[citation needed]

Countries (such as the United Kingdom and Denmark) or particular companies may mandate summer holidays in specific periods. These present issues to parents planning vacations, since holiday companies charge higher prices, and parents have an incentive to use their work vacation time in term time.

Types of holiday (observance)

Consecutive holidays

Consecutive holidays refers to holidays that occur in a group without working days in between. In the late 1990s, the Japanese government passed a law that increased the likelihood of consecutive holidays by moving holidays from fixed days to a relative position in a month, such as the second Monday.

Religious holidays

Many holidays are linked to faiths and religions (see etymology above). Christian holidays are defined as part of the liturgical year. The Catholic patronal feast day or 'name day' are celebrated in each place's patron saint's day, according to the Calendar of saints. In Islam, the largest holidays are Eid ul-Fitr (immediately after Ramadan) and Eid al-Adha (at the end of the Hajj). Hindus, Jains and Sikhs observe several holidays, one of the largest being Diwali (Festival of Light). Japanese holidays contain references to several different faiths and beliefs. Celtic, Norse, and Neopagan holidays follow the order of the Wheel of the Year. Some are closely linked to Swedish festivities. The Bahá'í Faith observes holidays as defined by the Bahá'í calendar. Jews have two holiday seasons: the Spring Feasts of Pesach (Passover) and Shavuot (Weeks, called Pentecost in Greek); and the Fall Feasts of Rosh Hashanah (Head of the Year), Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), Sukkot (Tabernacles), and Shemini Atzeret (Eighth Day of Assembly).

Northern Hemisphere winter holidays

Winter in the Northern Hemisphere features many holidays that involve festivals and feasts. The Christmas and holiday season surrounds the winter solstice and Christmas, and is celebrated by many religions and cultures. Usually, this period begins near the start of November and ends with New Year's Day. Holiday season is, somewhat, a commercial term that applies, in the US, to the period that begins with Thanksgiving and ends with New Year's Eve. Some Christian countries consider the end of the festive season to be after the feast of Epiphany.

National holidays

Sovereign nations and territories observe holidays based on events of significance to their history. For example, Australians celebrate Australia Day.

Secular holidays

Several secular holidays are observed, such as Earth Day or Labour Day, both internationally, and across multi-country regions, often in conjunction with organizations such as the United Nations. Many other days are marked to celebrate events or people, but are not strictly holidays as time off work is rarely given.

Unofficial holidays

These are holidays that are not traditionally marked on calendars. These holidays are celebrated by various groups and individuals. Some promote a cause, others recognize historical events not officially recognized, and others are "funny" holidays celebrated with humorous intent. For example, Monkey Day celebrated on December 14, and International Talk Like a Pirate Day observed on September 19.


Jehovah's Witnesses do not celebrate holidays, including Christmas, Halloween, and Easter, because they believe holidays are pagan.[2] They also reject national holidays as well, because they believe that, by celebrating these holidays, they are giving honor to man's governments and not God's Kingdom.[2]

See also


  1. ^ US law does not require employers to grant any vacation or holidays, and about 25% of all employees receive no vacation time or holidays.[ No-Vacation Nation]. Many US State and local governments require a minimum number of days off. For employees that do receive vacation, 10 working days with 8 national holidays is fairly standard. Members of the US Armed Services earn 30 vacation days a year, not including national holidays.
  2. ^ a b Reasoning from the Scriptures. Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. 1985, revised 1989. pp. 176–182. 


  • Susan E. Richardson (July 2001). Holidays & Holy Days: Origins, Customs, and Insights on Celebrations Through the Year. Vine Books. ISBN 0-8307-3442-2. 
  • Lucille Recht Penner and Ib Ohlsson (September 1993). Celebration: The Story of American Holidays. MacMillan Publishing Company. ISBN 0-02-770903-5. 
  • Barbara Klebanow and Sara Fischer (2005). American Holidays: Exploring Traditions, Customs, and Backgrounds. Pro Lingua Associates. ISBN 0-86647-196-0. 

External links

Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Published in Poems (1847).


From fall to spring, the russet acorn,
    Fruit beloved of maid and boy,
Lent itself beneath the forest,
    To be the children's toy.

Pluck it now! In vain,—thou canst not;
    Its root has pierced you shady mound;
Toy no longer—it has duties;
    It is anchored in the ground.

Year by year the rose-lipped maiden,
    Playfellow of young and old,
Was frolic sunshine, dear to all me,
    More dear to one than mines of gold.

Whither went the lovely hoyden?
    Disappeared in blessed wife;
Servant to a wooden cradle,
    Living in a baby's life.

Still thou playest;—short vacation
    Fate grants each to stand aside;
Now must thou be a man and artist,—
    'T is the turning of the tide.

PD-icon.svg This work published before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.

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