A holiday is basically a day set apart by law or custom, whereby normal daily activities, particularly work or business, including school, are either suspended or reduced significantly. In general, public holidays are meant to let people celebrate or commemorate an occasion or activity of religious or cultural importance. This is usually done to give everyone a chance to socialize with each other and spend the day enjoying itself.
Holidays in English literally translate as “seasons” or “a season.” As such, we can see that holidays in English make up a significant part of the calendar. The word “holiday” itself is also very appropriate as it strongly reminds us of a time when we were younger – much like our childhood days. We can all relate to going on holiday with our friends or family. Our families may have been accustomed to going on vacation every now and then so the entire concept of a vacation became associated with family and friends.
Some more words from the English language, which define the meaning of a holiday in America “holidays,” “anniversary,” and “celebration.” When used in American English, the word holiday actually refers to the actual holiday period. In British English, however, the term holiday evokes images of Christmas and Valentine’s Day, two very popular British national holidays. In British English, the word holiday also denotes a period of time during which many things are celebrated. For instance, a four-week period referred to as “pudding time” in some parts of the United Kingdom, a school carnival, and a week of sporting events. So a four-week American holiday would be known as Christmas time in the United States, Valentine’s day in England, or the Great British summer (the term for the Great British summertime holiday, in fact, is known as Britain’s national summer holiday).
Holidays, in general, allow individuals and families to spend time together in a relaxed, enjoyable atmosphere. A lot of research has been done on the positive effects that spending time with family and friends on holidays can have on an individual’s mental and emotional health and well-being. Studies have shown that children who have spent time on family holidays have had a higher acceptance of disabilities and learning disabilities. They have also shown an increased sense of personal responsibility.
The importance of holidays for Americans has become even clearer when you look at the way that most people throughout the United States to observe holidays. Most people in the U.S. follow a traditional Jewish holiday called Shavuot, which usually falls on the second day of the month of Tishrei, or the Jewish New Year. This traditional holiday gives Jews a chance to remember their ancestors and their heritage. It is customary to give thanks to G-d for having created people and life, as well as giving them the opportunity to learn about, celebrate, and be grateful for the many wonderful things he has given them throughout the years.
For those of us who are not practicing Jews, the meaning of the holidays is somewhat different from those of our friends and relatives who are Jews. We celebrate holidays because we want to. We use holidays to remind ourselves that there is meaningful stuff in the world, and we use these days to get in touch with the joy, excitement, and joy of the Christmas and holiday season. In my opinion, no other time of the year provides as wonderful a window through which to see and experience the spirit of the holidays as does the annual Jewish holiday of Shavuot.