The Commemoration Of Holidays In America And Beyond

The basis of the English word "holiday" is based on an Old English word "haligdaeg" otherwise known as a "Holy Day". The word slowly changed until it reached its current form. The word holiday originally was limited to only to specific religious days. However in modern usage, it means any special day off from work for relaxation. Across the English-speaking parts of the world, the word holiday may define a specific day declared by a nation, religion, or culture (or in some cases, many nations and cultures) for celebration, commemoration, or some other observance. Schools, businesses, government offices, and other institutions are typically shuttered for official holidays.

Often times, holidays are celebrated by specific faiths. Winter (in the colder Northern Hemisphere) offers several holidays revolving around festivals. The Christmas holiday season is on either side of the winter solstice and is celebrated across a variety of religions. The Christmas holiday season officially starts in November and ends on the New Year's Day holiday (January 1st). The Christmas holiday season in the US is really just a shopping season that starts on the day after the Black Friday and ends on December 31st.

Many secular holidays are also observed, such as Earth Day, Labor Day, Arbor Day, etc. These holidays are celebrated both globally as well as across regions, often along with unifying organizations such as the UN.

The US does not have any days on which all employees in the country receive a day off from work and all business comes to a stop. The federal government can declare holidays that gives federal employees the holiday, but each local jurisdiction has the discretion to determine their official holiday schedules. There are 11 such Federal holidays, ten annual and one quadrennial holiday:

- January 1st

- Martin Luther King Day

- Inauguration Day

- President's Day

- Memorial Day

- Independence Day

- Labor Day

- Columbus Day

- Veterans Day

- Thanksgiving Day

- Christmas

On top of official holidays, many ethnic and other holidays fill up the calendar. These holidays are hardly ever observed by schools as holidays. Many are basically viewed as opportunities for retail promotions. Because of this commercialization, some critics call these holidays "Hallmark holidays" to imply that they were only holidays promoted by a greeting card company. Popular holidays observed in the US are:

- Groundhog Day

- Valentine's Day

- St Patrick's Day

- Arbor Day

- Cinco de Mayo

- Mother's Day

- Flag Day

- Fathers Day

- Halloween

- Election Day

- Black Friday

- December 24th (Christmas Eve)

- Kwanzaa

- December 31st

By: David Nalpak