A holiday is a period set aside for public celebration or observance in which normal everyday activities, particularly work or school including church, are curtailed or suspended. In general, public holidays are marked by celebrations or festivities to let people mark a special event or festival of social or cultural importance. It may be as elaborate and colorful as any holiday we celebrate in our homes, but public holidays are an important way of marking occasions, publicize events, publicize causes, or raise funds. For many reasons, the timing and amount of a public holiday has been determined by the government in consultation with various groups and interest groups. While a universal practice, there are many different public holidays recognized around the world with some having religious or ethnic implications. Some have been adapted from religious traditions or cultural beliefs of particular regions, while others are based on a particular person, culture or nation’s history.
Holidays have become very popular ways to celebrate, commemorate or identify a momentous occasion. The calendar is filled with special seasonal and national holidays marking major milestones and notable events. Because of their universal applicability and wide range of appeal, public holidays have played a vital role not only as time pass by but also as a major social symbol. There are holidays designated for the month of December, Valentine’s Day, Good Friday and Easter, all of which have long-standing historical and cultural resonance.
When most people think of a holiday, they usually immediately conjure up images of snow-capped mountains covered in white powder and New Year’s Eve revelers parading through the streets in copious clothing and party with blaring music. While these are certainly major characteristics of a traditional holiday, the etymology of the word holiday points to the Ancient Roman practice of feasting and celebrating the life around the hearth. The word “holi” means “homesickness,” and it was probably adopted from the Hindu term “vedic” meaning “all-healing.” Holidays were a time for relaxation, meditation and renewal, much like the springtime season. In fact, the entire concept of a holiday is intimately tied to this rejuvenating time.
As we can see, the etymology of the word holiday, from its original meaning of “all-healing” or “relaxation,” has shed much light on its current meaning of “healthy enjoyment.” Holidays are normal activities and often include some degree of food, drink or music. Because of the holidays, families gather together and share time together.
Holidays are natural opportunities for social interaction and relaxation. In fact, a holiday is one of the best times to get away from the normal hustle and bustle of daily life and take time to relax, recharge and enjoy one’s self. As stated above, the etymology of the word holiday is closely associated with food, drink and music and dates back to ancient times. A holiday celebration typically includes food, wine and music. The purpose of a holiday celebration is to spend quality time with friends, family, neighbors or co-workers and forget about the daily problems and concerns.
Holidays, by their very nature, provide for the opportunity to spend quality time with loved ones and take pleasure in some “me time.” This is why it has been a tradition for many cultures to observe different holidays throughout the year, each with its own unique etymology and history. The etymology of the word holiday provides insight into the rich history and culture behind many of the most popular holidays we celebrate around the world.