This has always been a word that intrigued me. Its root comes from “Holy Day,” of course, but it’s come to mean so much more. It’s used for a day off work or for a religious holy day. The Brits (“We’re going on holiday to the Brighton”) use it the same way we Americans use vacation (“We’re going on vacation to Martha’s Vineyard.)
And yet, it doesn’t so much have the “holy” connotation any more, does it? Even the very-religious holidays like Easter. Mostly, holidays these days seem to be a reason to gather family and friends, possibly exchange gifts or greeting cards, but without so much a “religious” emphasis, even for the ones that are fundamentally religious in nature.
And then there are days like, say, Thanksgiving which we’re celebrating here in the US today–a day for family, a day to be generally thankful, and a day to eat lots and lots of turkey and the essential trimmings (not to mention pie). No religious connotations whatsoever … except, when you get down to it, while going to church or temple or mosque and communing with God is a spiritually-important thing, in this day and age, isn’t it also important to commune with your family and loved ones? It may not be “holy,” exactly, but we live in a busy, hectic age, and to me, family will always be the most important focus, and having a day dedicated to spending it with them in thanks and good fellowship?
Perfect. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone–wherever you are!
- O.E. haligdæg, from halig “holy” + dæg “day;” in 14c. meaning both “religious festival” and “day of recreation,” but pronunciation and sense diverged 16c.
- a day fixed by law or custom on which ordinary business is suspended in commemoration of some event or in honor of some person.
- any day of exemption from work (distinguished from working day)
- a time or period of exemption from any requirement, duty, assessment, etc.: New businesses may be granted a one-year tax holiday.
- a religious feast day; holy day, esp. any of several usually commemorative holy days observed in Judaism.
- sometimes, holidays. Chiefly British. a period of cessation from work or one of recreation; vacation.
- an unintentional gap left on a plated, coated, or painted surface.
- of or pertaining to a festival; festive; joyous: a holiday mood.
- suitable for a holiday: holiday attire.
–verb (used without object)
- Chiefly British. to vacation: to holiday at the seaside.
Also, coincidentally, Joanna was asking about “holiday” just the other day. What does holiday mean to you?