The term “holidays” can refer to any day of the year. However, the list of holidays that we generally think of during the Christmas season would include Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day, New Year’s, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, and Halloween. A holiday is usually a day set apart by law or custom, where normal daily activities, particularly work or school including church, are either suspended or significantly reduced. In general, most holidays are meant to let people celebrate or remember an occasion or religious or cultural meaning. Holidays are not religious ceremonies themselves but are a time for giving thanks or remembering loved ones.
The roots of the word “holiday” go back to the Latin word “holenna,” which in its modern form means “pilgrimage.” The Pilgrims immigrated to the New World, bringing with them the English language and the customs of their new country. Because of this, the English word “holidays” today has a much broader meaning than simply religious festival.
In the United States, public holidays and observances are a lot less common than they are in other countries. In many other countries, public holidays and observances are seen as a time for family and community bonding. In the United States, the majority of holidays holidays designated as Christian based. In addition, most public holidays recognized by the US government are given as symbols of the country. On these holidays, individuals and families are encouraged to observe their traditions, cultures, and histories.
The etymology of the word “holidays” is related to the English word “holi” (the holy of holies). This name came from the Sanskrit language meaning “the holy of Holies.” Holi is a Hindu religious festival. During Holi, Lord Krishna and his entire Hindu devatas (ritualists) perform numerous activities such as dancing, painting, and fireworks in order to celebrate the joy of the season. Holidays designated as “holi” are always followed by a visit to the Holy Temple of Ganesha – where in India, Lord Krishna first established his base.
In British English, the term “holidays” now refers more to particular days of the year than to any national holy day. Some examples of holidays used in the United States are Thanksgiving Day, Christmas, and Hanukkah, which are an annual celebration of the Jewish religion. On these days, the United States observes quiet, predictable business around the holiday. For example, on Christmas Eve, most stores and businesses in the United States stay closed.
As for the etymology of the word “holiday,” the origin of the holiday we celebrate today probably originated with the English people themselves. Because of the emphasis that the British English put on “the holy” holidays, the term “holidays” likely got its start from that point. The Pilgrims, a group of English settlers who left Britain in the 16th century, were the first to observe holy days of their own. The Pilgrims established a “holiness” movement to bring back the concept of the “holy man.” While this early history gives us some of the flavor of our modern holiday celebration, the etymology of the word “holidays” makes holiday history.