Holidays are a happy day set apart by law or custom, where normal daily activities, particularly work or study, including social work or school are either suspended or entirely reduced. In general, most holidays are meant to let people commemorate or celebrate an occasion or belief of particular cultural or spiritual importance. A well-known holiday symbolizing peace is the Christmas tree. The history of the tradition of letting children give gifts or money to a tree dates back to ancient times. Holidays also represent different customs and traditions related to time, family, traditions and beliefs. Many people celebrate certain festivals or holidays with a particular belief or practice.
The history of the word “holidays” is uncertain, but is believed to be derived from the Greek word meaning “peace.” Some people believe that there were two different holidays in the ancient world: the Greek fourth holiday, the Winter Festival, and the Chinese New Year. The New Year’s festival began on January first and lasted until the middle of the New Year.
The first recorded holiday was the Persian New Year. It began with the giving of grain as a present to the ruler by his subjects. The grain given represented good fortune and was thought to grant prosperity, happiness and safety to the owner. During this time the Persians celebrated the Mysteries of Eleusis, which involved the celebration of the Mysteries of Demeter and Persephone, the mother and daughter gods. The festival of Esmer is thought to have been the first official holiday in the world.
The ancient Greeks celebrated their own form of Holidays. They called their Holidays “the Seasons,” and observed different days throughout the year for different reasons. Some holidays they observed because of their beliefs or practices, some for personal gain or tradition, and others because of historical accounts. For example, the fourth Sunday of Lent was called Pneumatomachia, the old women’s day.
In the early America people did not celebrate Holidays so much. Thanksgiving, on which many Native American tribes got together to feast on food left over from the Thanksgiving Day meal, began as a holiday but quickly grew into a more general observance. By 1730 people had created the date known as Thanksgiving and began to use it for gathering in front of the house and making the best feasts. Thanksgiving became such a popular holiday that it was made into a song. Many years later, when farmers were freed from slavery and traveling became more widespread, Thanksgiving began to mean different things to different people.
In Canada, the Pilots’ Week began as a way for Canadian authorities to punish people for poor hunting. Hunting was very important to the Canadian economy at this time and many laws were enacted to help encourage the practice. Holidays like Canada’s MapleStory began as a way for the first peoples to celebrate the beginning of the new season. Even today many areas of the world pay tribute to the seasonal nature of our days and are marked with festivities and special events.