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A holiday is a day designated as having special significance for which individuals, a government, or a religious group have deemed that observation is warranted. It is generally an official (more common) or unofficial observance of religious, national, or cultural significance, often accompanied by celebrations or festivities.



The word holiday derived from the notion of "Holy Day", and gradually evolved to its current form.

The word holiday comes from the Old English word hāligdæg. The word originally referred only to special religious days. In modern use, it means any special day of rest or relaxation, as opposed to normal days away from work or school.

Regional meaning

The usage of the word holiday varies in different parts of the English-speaking world.

Australia, Canada, UK

In Australia, Canada, and the UK, all usage of the word holiday means time away from normal employment or education. The meaning is further subdivided into two major sub-categories:

Days referred to as holidays in other places but which do not involve formally decreed time away from work especially for that day, such as Valentine's Day and Mother's Day, are not described as holidays in Australia or the UK.


In the U.S.A. holiday may refer to a day set aside by a nation or culture (in some cases, multiple nations and cultures) for commemoration, celebration, or other observance. Schools and businesses often close for holidays.

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