It’s summertime in the northern hemisphere, our kids are out of school, so many of us are thinking about one of our favorite things…VACATION! But have you stopped to wonder about the history of the word? I actually first took a look at it back in 2012, but it was definitely time for a revisit!
I was pretty surprised to learn that this word is as old as it is! It strikes me as a modern idea, I suppose . . . or maybe I just tend to think of the British word “holiday” as being older.
But in actuality, vacation dates from the 1300s with the meaning of “freedom from obligations, leisure, release.” Which I guess goes to show that as long as people have been toiling, they’ve been in need of a break. Even the formalized version–i.e. a break from school–has been around since the 1400s. That definitely surprised me! Then on the other hand, the idea of going away somewhere to pass this free time (a distinction I would have thought subtle) is from the late 1800s. So while taking a break is as old as time, traveling somewhere to do that is a luxury that the average person just couldn’t even dream about until trains and then cars brought it within reach. So this “modern” idea of a staycation is actually just a revisit of what it used to mean. 😉
I have to wonder sometimes how many in our country never take the time to go on a vacation as we rush, rush rush, to do things which make us more stressed rather than free to relax? I remember as a young girl going off to camp and the joys & happiness that brought to my life! I also cherish the excitement I felt in going with friends to their summer cottage down at the N.J. seashore. Now when teachers ask children what they did for summer vacation, too many, it seems, are unable to even answer that question as all they’ve done is sit in the house pushing buttons on a video game. In most homes in this day and age both parents are busy working and many don’t even use their vacation days except for emergencies. So gone are the days of being down at the sea riding the surf, digging for clams, and eating Silver Dollar pancakes on the boardwalk. I think back to when I used to take my son & daughter on vacations and of the many other children we would take with us, friends of my kids from our church, our neighborhood, and school. I can’t even begin to tell you how many of them would cry when the two weeks were up and we had to come home. Why? Because they had never had a vacation before. They had never sat around a campfire just laughing and singing and enjoying the presence of each other. Oh that we would stop all the rushing around and instead return to the days of building sandcastles. If only we would know the joy of singing, “How Great Thou Art,” as we enjoy the beauty of God’s Creation from the mountains and valleys of this great country of ours! May I encourage everyone who reads this article to let it speak to your hearts and perhaps cause you to take that time for the leisure that our bodies need. To me vacation is a time to write memories on the hearts of our loved ones for them to remember for years to come. Perhaps some of you might be willing to tell us what vacation means to you. Maybe it’s having the time to relax with a good book, or just having the time to dig in a flowerbed, or pick strawberries from a local fruit farm. Whatever it is, have you been blessed to find God in it? I hope so, for it is in Him you will find that release of obligations Roseanna was mentioning, that freedom to just be yourself and find your peace in Him!