Definitions

religious holiday

Holiday

[hol-i-dey]

The words holiday or vacation have related meanings in different English-speaking countries and continents, but will usually refer to one of the following activities or events:

  • A general leave of absence from a regular occupation for rest or recreation
  • A specific trip or journey for the purposes of recreation / tourism
  • Official or unofficial observances of religious/national/cultural/other significance, often accompanied by celebrations or festivities (public/religious holiday)

A holiday or vacation trip/break will often be undertaken during specific holiday observances, or be made for specific festivals or celebrations. Certain religious holidays may be of a more somber nature. Vacation or holidays are often used as a time to spend with friends or family.

Longer breaks from a career or occupation also exist, such as a sabbatical, gap year or career break.

Etymology

Holiday

Holiday is a contraction of holy and day, holidays originally represented special religious days. This word has evolved in general usage to mean any special day of rest (as opposed to regular days of rest such as the weekend).

Vacation

In the United Kingdom the word "vacation" referred specifically to the long summer break taken by the law courts (and later universities)—a custom introduced by William the Conqueror from Normandy where it was intended to facilitate the grape harvest. The French term is similar to the American English: "Les Vacances." The term derives from the fact that, in the past, upper-class families would literally move to a summer home for part of the year, leaving their usual family home vacant.

Regional meanings

As a trip

Vacation is a term used in English-speaking North America to describe a lengthy time away from work or school, a trip abroad, or simply a pleasure trip away from home, such as a trip to the beach that lasts several days or longer. In the rest of the English-speaking world the word holiday is used (e.g. "I'm going on holiday to Malta next week"). Americans, especially those of recent British or European descent, may also use the word "holiday." "Annual Leave" is another expression used in Commonwealth countries.

Canadians often use the terms vacation and holiday interchangeably when referring to a trip away from home or time off work. In Australia, the term can refer to a vacation or gazetted public holiday, but not to a day of observance such as Mothers' Day or Halloween.

As an observance

In all of the English-speaking world including North America, a holiday can refer to a day set aside by a nation or culture (in some cases, multiple nations and cultures) typically for celebration but sometimes for some other kind of special culture-wide (or national) observance or activity. A holiday can also be a special day on which school and/or offices are closed, such as Labor Day. By extension, (observance)-holiday, e.g. Labour Day holiday, refers to the rest period around the official observance.

Employment issues

Most countries around the world have labor laws mandating employers give a certain number of paid days of time off per year to be given to a worker. In nearly all Canadian provinces, the legal minimum is three weeks, while in most of Europe the limit is significantly higher. The U.S. does not require employers to give a set mandatory vacation time. However, in the free-market labor system in the United States, many employers offer paid vacation, typically 10 to 20 days work days, as an incentive to attract employees, and under U.S. federal law, an employee whose employment terminates generally must receive compensation for any accrued but unused vacation time. Additionally, the vast majority of American employers provide for paid national holidays, such as Christmas, New Years, Independence Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving Day.

While U.S. federal law and most state's laws provide for leave, such as medical leave, there are movements attempting to remove vacation time as a factor in the free-market labor pool and, instead, require mandatory vacation time for American workers, such as timeday.org

In some cases "vacation holiday" is used in North America, which signifies that a vacation trip is taken during a traditional national holiday period, extended on either end of the period by taking additional time off from work. This is common in the United States where employers give far fewer annual vacation days than European employers—so stretching the related national holidays tends to conserve one's accumulated total of eligible days available for longer quality vacation excursions. This is often termed a "long weekend", if a national holiday falls next to a weekend. When national holidays fall on a normal non-working day, such as a weekend, they will sometimes be carried over to the next working day.

In the United Kingdom, there is an annual issue for parents, who only have the mandated summer holidays in order to plan vacations. Accordingly, holiday companies charge higher prices, giving an incentive for parents to use their work vacation time in term time.

Types of holiday (observance)

Consecutive holidays

Consecutive holidays are a string of holidays taken together without working days in between. They tend to be considered a good chance to take short trips. In 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. Well-known consecutive holidays include:

Religious holidays

Several holidays are linked to faiths and religions. 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 and Ramadan. 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), Chag Ha-Matzot (Festival of Unleavened Bread), and Shavuot (Weeks, called Pentacost in Greek); and the Fall Feasts of Yom Teruah (Day of Blasting, also called Rosh HaShannah), Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), and Sukkot (Tabernacles).

Northern Hemisphere winter holidays

The winter months in the Northern Hemisphere see the observance of many holidays considered a season, often accompanied by festivals and feasts. The winter holiday season is known as a period of time surrounding Christmas that was formed in order to embrace all cultural and religious celebration rather than only Christian celebrations. Usually, this period begins near the start of November and ends with New Year's Day on January 1. The holiday season is usually commercially referred to with a broad interpretation, avoiding the reference of specific holidays like Hanukkah or Christmas. Traditional "holiday season" festivities are usually associated with winter, including snowflakes and wintry songs. In some Christian countries, the end of the festive season is considered to be after the feast of Epiphany, although this is only within the Christian creed.Winter holiday greetings are traditionally a part of the winter holiday season.

National holidays

Many sovereign nations and territories observe holidays based on events of significance to their history.

Secular holidays

Several secular holidays are observed, both internationally, and across multi-country regions, often in conjunction with organisations 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 are designed to promote a cause, others recognize historical events not recognized officially, and others are "funny" holidays, generally intended as humorous distractions and excuses to share laughs among friends.

See also

References

  • Susan E. Richardson (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 (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

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