I’ve shared the etymology of holiday before, back in 2011, but I figured ten years is enough time that I can revisit. 😉

I always find this one kind of funny…at least when people object to people saying “Happy Holidays!” instead of “Merry Christmas.” My opinion has always been that the joke is on anyone who thinks they’re avoiding the “religious” aspect of anything by using the word, given that it is quite literally just an elision of holy and day.

Yep. Pretty easy etymology on this one!

Holiday is an old word, dating from the 1300s, to mean “a holy day, consecrated day, religious anniversary.” Of course, a holy day meant a day when you were excused from your labors, so that sense of “a day without work” soon joined the idea as well.

Interestingly, in the mid 1800s, people in England would say “Happy Holidays” during the summer, in reference to school being out. It wasn’t until a 1930s Camel cigarette ad that anyone ever said “Happy Holidays” in reference to the Christmas season–who knew? (Though I maintin it makes sense when referring the season that encompasses Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years. Three holidays deserves the plural!)

Regardless, I pray you’re enjoying your holiday season and that you pause to reflect not just on the recreational aspect, but on the true meaning of the word — the holiness of the day we celebrate.

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