A holiday is a day set aside by custom or by law
on which normal activities, especially business or work, are suspended
or reduced. Generally, holidays are intended to allow individuals to
celebrate or commemorate an event or tradition of cultural or religious
significance. Holidays may be designated by governments, religious
institutions, or other groups or organizations. The degree to which
normal activities are reduced by a holiday may depend on local laws,
customs, the type of job being held or even personal choices.
The concept of holidays often originated in connection with religious
observances. The intention of a holiday was typically to allow
individuals to tend to religious duties associated with important dates
on the calendar. In most modern societies, however, holidays serve as
much of a recreational function as any other weekend days or activities.
In many societies there are important distinctions between holidays
designated by governments and holidays designated by religious
institutions. For example, in many predominantly Christian nations,
government-designed holidays may center on Christian holidays, though
non-Christians may instead observe religious holidays associated with
their faith. In some cases, a holiday may only be nominally observed.
For example, many Jews in the Americas and Europe treat the relatively
minor Jewish holiday of Hanukkah as a "working holiday", changing very little of their daily routines for this day