Holiday Traditions Around The World
A holiday is a period set aside for public celebrations of national or personal importance, usually on which public activities, particularly work or school including church, are reduced or suspended. In most cases, holidays are planned to let people celebrate an occasion or tradition of cultural or historical importance to them. Holidays can be family gatherings, picnics, sports events and holidays organized by the government. In the United States, the federal government decides the nomenclature and names for several holidays. In some states, local communities also decide names for popular holidays.
Some of the most popular American holidays are Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, Easter, New Year’s, St. Patrick’s Day, Boxing Day, Hanukkah, Oktoberfest, Father’s Day and Halloween. In Canada, the most popular English-speaking holiday in that country is Canada Day, designated as late January 19. The Dutch celebrate Friso Festuiwond, the Dutch word for Friday. In most other cultures, the Christian holiday marked with a Mass in the evening is known as Good Friday. In most other countries, the start of the week is observed by a major religious festival.
The length of a national holiday, including counting backwards, determines its popularity. On very busy days, like Good Friday, there are many more holiday shoppers than usual, and the traffic can be particularly heavy. In the United States, a three-day weekend is a holiday, and in Canada it is considered a Saturday.
Historically, the length of a national holiday was always associated with religious celebrations. The Pilgrims, who were mostly Puritans, could not wait a long time between journeys home from the winter pasture because they were celebrating the harvest and giving thanks to God for His almighty help with the growing crops. Similarly, the Dutch, who had longer summers than the English, lengthened their summer celebrations by performing lemmings, a kind of harvest celebration. Even the English, who had colder climates, lengthened Easter and Christmas by two full days.
The number of days off or holidays paid off for the people of these communities. Between these great festivals, there was always plenty to do and see, often far more than could be done in just one day. This was the key to their survival during harsh winters: they were able to make the most of fewer days off work.
Holidays don’t have to be about uniformity. People in different communities around the world can mark them differently. Some communities, for example, celebrate the New Year’s holiday by going out dancing. Others, like the Mennonites, count days away from the start of the fasting season as a sacred holiday. There are many ways to mark a holiday, and the traditions and customs may vary, but they are all valuable to the people who celebrate them.