Holidays: How Different They Are Each Year
A holiday is typically a day set apart by law or custom, where normal daily activities, particularly work or school including worship, are temporarily suspended or even completely curtailed. In general such holidays are meant to allow people to commemorate or celebrate an occasion or belief of particular cultural or spiritual significance. There are some occasions that are universally linked to a single holiday, like Christmas and Hanukkah, while others may have varied origins. The point is, however, that a holiday is generally a day set apart from normal routines so that people can pay homage to a significant person or idea.
One can trace the origins of holidays back to the ancient cultures of the world and, in the United States, they can be traced to the Pilgrims who made their home in New England. During the middle part of the 16th century, the English celebrated what was known as the “season of winters”. This was a time when families in England stopped working together and instead took turns staying home to be with loved ones. While this was primarily a time for celebration, the holiday season came to symbolize the coming in of new life into the world and a break from the old, traditional ways.
Holidays in the United States parallel those in England and began around the middle of the 17th century. The first official holiday pay for workers was not celebrated until the industrial revolution of the 18th century, which occurred just before the dawn of the Industrial Revolution in England. This movement occurred in the United States also, but it did not become a popular holiday pay for workers until the onset of the Civil War. Under the terms of a Compromise signed by the two warring parties in the Civil War, workers were able to take off their holiday pay so that they would have enough money to eat and provide clothing and provisions for themselves and their families.
As more holiday vacations began to occur, the need for workers grew. In response, religious organizations stepped in to offer assistance. By the nineteenth century, there were more than thirty major religious holidays throughout the United States. Major holidays were designated to groups of people or villages. In some cases, employers set up their own religious holiday clubs. Many workers believed that the extra work and dedication paid off when they had a holiday off from their job.
Some holidays, such as “Thanksgiving”, “Dinner of Five”, “Rich Man’s Friday” and “Lavender’s Day” became national holidays and extended over a longer period of time than was common in the past. The traditions associated with these holidays changed over time but remained consistent throughout much of the twentieth century. A “Thanksgiving” or “Bank Holiday” is typically associated with eating and gathering around a table, but in some regions a “Thanksgiving” or “Resolution Day” has replaced the traditional afternoon tea with hot dogs and corn on the cob at the local coffee shop.
Today, many people enjoy celebrating certain religious holidays like Passover and Mardi Gras. Others like the spirit of Halloween and visit trick or treating areas after school. Parents also find creative uses for holiday-like games for children. Many families have several different religious holidays during the year. Some children like to play games on special holidays like “Religious Guy” and “Prayer Circle”.