AskDefine | Define holiday

Dictionary Definition



1 leisure time away from work devoted to rest or pleasure; "we get two weeks of vacation every summer"; "we took a short holiday in Puerto Rico" [syn: vacation]
2 a day on which work is suspended by law or custom; "no mail is delivered on federal holidays"; "it's a good thing that New Year's was a holiday because everyone had a hangover" v : spend or take a vacation [syn: vacation]

User Contributed Dictionary



holy + day


  1. A day on which a festival, religious event, or national celebration is traditionally observed.
  2. A day declared free from work by the government.
  3. A period of one or more days taken off work by an employee for leisure.
  4. A period taken off work or study for travel.
  5. An unintentional gap left on a plated, coated, or painted surface.


  • (day on which a festival, etc, is traditionally observed): feast day (celebratory religious event)
  • (day declared free from work by the government): Bank Holiday italbrac UK, national holiday
  • (period of one or more days taken off work by an employee for leisure): leave, time off
  • (period taken off work or study for travel): vacation italbrac US


day on which a festival, etc, is traditionally observed
day declared free from work by the government
period of one or more days taken off work by an employee for leisure
  • Finnish: loma, lomapäivä, vapaapäivä
  • French: congé
  • German: Urlaub
  • Italian: vacanza
  • Japanese: 休暇 (kyūka)
  • Korean: 휴가 (hyuga)
  • Maltese: vaganza
  • Russian: отгул
  • Serbian: odmor
  • Spanish: vacación
  • Swedish: ledighet
period taken off work or study for travel
  • Finnish: loma, lomapäivä, vapaapäivä
  • French: vacance
  • German: Urlaub, Pl. Ferien
  • Italian: vacanza
  • Maltese: vaganza, btala
  • Russian: отпуск (ótpusk) , каникулы (kaníkuly) p of students or parliament
  • Serbian: odmor , raspust of students
  • Swedish: semester
unintentional gap
  • Finnish: aukko
translations to be checked


  1. To take a period of time away from work or study.
  2. To spend a period of time for travel.
to take a period of time away from work or study
to spend a period of time for travel


Extensive Definition

The words holiday or vacation have related meanings in different English-speaking countries and continents, but will usually refer to one of the following activities or events:
  • A general leave of absence from a regular occupation for rest or recreation
  • A specific trip or journey for the purposes of recreation / tourism
  • Official or unofficial observances of religious/national/cultural/other significance, often accompanied by celebrations or festivities (public/religious holiday)
A holiday or vacation trip/break will often be undertaken during specific holiday observances, or be made for specific festivals or celebrations. Certain religious holidays may be of a more sombre nature. Vacation or holidays are often used as a time to spend with friends or family.
Longer breaks from a career or occupation also exist, such as a sabbatical, gap year or career break.



Holiday is a contraction of holy and day, holidays originally represented special religious days. This word has evolved in general usage to mean any special day of rest (as opposed to regular days of rest such as the weekend).


In the United Kingdom the word "vacation" referred specifically to the long summer break taken by the law courts (and later universities)—a custom introduced by William the Conqueror from Normandy where it was intended to facilitate the grape harvest. The French term is similar to the American English: "Les Vacances." The term derives from the fact that, in the past, upper-class families would literally move to a summer home for part of the year, leaving their usual family home vacant.

Regional meanings

As a trip

Vacation is a term used in English-speaking North America to describe a lengthy time away from work or school, a trip abroad, or simply a pleasure trip away from home, such as a trip to the beach that lasts several days or longer. In the rest of the English-speaking world the word holiday is used (e.g. "I'm going on holiday to Malta next week"). Americans, especially those of recent British or European descent, may also use the word "holiday." "Annual Leave" is another expression used in Commonwealth countries.
Canadians often use the terms vacation and holiday interchangeably when referring to a trip away from home or time off work. In Australia, the term can refer to a vacation or gazetted public holiday, but not to a day of observance such as Mothers' Day or Halloween.

As an observance

In all of the English-speaking world including North America, a holiday can refer to a day set aside by a nation or culture (in some cases, multiple nations and cultures) typically for celebration but sometimes for some other kind of special culture-wide (or national) observance or activity. A holiday can also be a special day on which school and/or offices are closed, such as Labor Day. By extension, (observance)-holiday, e.g. Labour Day holiday, refers to the rest period around the official observance.

Employment issues

Most countries around the world have labor laws mandating a certain number of days of time off per year to be given to a worker. In nearly all Canadian provinces, the legal minimum is three weeks, while in most of Europe the limit is significantly higher. Neither the U.S. nor China requires that employees receive any vacation time at all. There are movements fighting for laws requiring more vacation time for American workers such as
In some cases "vacation holiday" is used in North America, which signifies that a vacation trip is taken during a traditional national holiday period, extended on either end of the period by taking additional time off from work. This is common in the United States where employers give far fewer annual vacation days than European employers—so stretching the related national holidays tends to conserve one's accumulated total of eligible days available for longer quality vacation excursions. This is often termed a "long weekend", if a national holiday falls next to a weekend. When national holidays fall on a normal non-working day, such as a weekend, they will sometimes be carried over to the next working day.
In the United Kingdom there is an annual issue for parents, who only have the mandated summer holidays in order to plan vacations. Accordingly, holiday companies charge higher prices, giving an incentive for parents to use their work vacation time in term time.

Types of holiday (observance)

Consecutive holidays

Consecutive holidays are a string of holidays taken together without working days in between. They tend to be considered a good chance to take short trips. In late 1990s, the Japanese government passed a law that increased the likelihood of consecutive holidays by moving holidays from fixed days to a relative position in a month, such as the second Monday. Well-known consecutive holidays include:

Religious holidays

Several holidays are linked to faiths and religions. Christian holidays are defined as part of the liturgical year. The Catholic patronal feast day or 'name day' are celebrated in each place's patron saint's day, according to the Calendar of saints. In Islam, the largest holidays are Eid and Ramadan. Hindus, Jains and Sikhs observe several holidays, one of the largest being Diwali (Festival of Light). Japanese holidays contain references to several different faiths and beliefs. Celtic, Norse, and Neopagan holidays follow the order of the Wheel of the Year. Some are closely linked to Swedish festivities. There are also many well known Jewish holidays. The Bahá'í Faith observes holidays as defined by the Bahá'í calendar.

Northern Hemisphere winter holidays

The winter months in the Northern Hemisphere see the observance of many holidays considered a season, often accompanied by festivals and feasts. The winter holiday season is known as a period of time surrounding Christmas that was formed in order to embrace all cultural and religious celebration rather than only Christian celebrations. Usually, this period begins near the start of November and ends with New Year's Day on January 1. The holiday season is usually commercially referred to with a broad interpretation, avoiding the reference of specific holidays like Hanukkah or Christmas. Traditional "holiday season" festivities are usually associated with winter, including snowflakes and wintry songs. In some Christian countries, the end of the festive season is considered to be after the feast of Epiphany, although this is only within the Christian creed.Winter holiday greetings are traditionally a part of the winter holiday season.

National holidays

Several sovereign nations and territories observe holidays based on events of significance to their history.

Secular holidays

Several secular holidays are observed, both internationally, and across multi-country regions, often in conjunction with organisations such as the United Nations. Many other days are marked to celebrate events or people, but are not strictly holidays as time off work is rarely given.

Unofficial holidays

These are holidays that are not traditionally marked on calendars. These holidays are celebrated by various groups and individuals. Some are designed to promote a cause, others recognize historical events not recognized officially, and others are "funny" holidays, generally intended as humorous distractions and excuses to share laughs among friends.


  • Holidays & Holy Days: Origins, Customs, and Insights on Celebrations Through the Year
  • Celebration: The Story of American Holidays
  • American Holidays: Exploring Traditions, Customs, and Backgrounds
holiday in Tosk Albanian: Feiertage
holiday in Arabic: عيد
holiday in Azerbaijani: Bayram
holiday in Bosnian: Praznik
holiday in Bulgarian: Празник
holiday in Czech: Svátek
holiday in Danish: Helligdag
holiday in German: Feiertag
holiday in Modern Greek (1453-): Αργία
holiday in Spanish: Día festivo
holiday in Esperanto: Festaj kaj feriaj tagoj
holiday in Faroese: Halgidagur
holiday in French: Fête
holiday in Irish: Lá saoire
holiday in Korean: 공휴일
holiday in Indonesian: Hari raya
holiday in Italian: Festa
holiday in Hebrew: חג
holiday in Georgian: დღესასწაული
holiday in Swahili (macrolanguage): Sikukuu
holiday in Lithuanian: Šventė
holiday in Malay (macrolanguage): Hari perayaan
holiday in Dutch: Feest- en gedenkdagen
holiday in Japanese: 祝日
holiday in Norwegian: Helligdag
holiday in Norwegian Nynorsk: Heilagdag
holiday in Polish: Święto
holiday in Portuguese: Feriado
holiday in Russian: Праздник
holiday in Albanian: Festa
holiday in Simple English: Holiday
holiday in Slovak: Sviatok
holiday in Finnish: Loma
holiday in Swedish: Helgdag
holiday in Tagalog: Pista
holiday in Volapük: Zeladel
holiday in Walloon: Fiesse
holiday in Samogitian: Švėntė
holiday in Chinese: 假日

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

AWOL, Admission Day, Arbor Day, Armed Forces Day, Armistice Day, Army Day, Bastille Day, Christmas, Colorado Day, Constitution Day, Decoration Day, Dewali, Discovery Day, Double Ten, Easter Monday, Election Day, Empire Day, Evacuation Day, Flag Day, Foundation Day, Fourth of July, French leave, Groundhog Day, Halifax Day, Halloween, High Holiday, High Holy Day, Holi, Ides of March, Kuhio Day, Labor Day, Lenin Memorial Day, Loyalty Day, Maryland Day, May Day, Mecklenburg Day, Memorial Day, Midsummer Day, National Aviation Day, Navy Day, Nevada Day, Pan American Day, Pascua Florida Day, Pioneer Day, Remembrance Day, Roosevelt Day, State Day, Sunday, Texas Independence Day, United Nations Day, V-E Day, Victory Day, West Virginia Day, Wyoming Day, abeyance, abscondence, absence, absence without leave, absentation, absenteeism, absenting, anniversaries, bank holiday, break, caesura, cease-fire, celebrating, celebration, ceremony, church feast, coffee break, comfortable, commemoration, cut, day of festivities, day off, default, departure, disappearance, downtime, dressing ship, drop, escape, event, excused absence, fair, fanfare, fanfaronade, feast, feast day, festal, festival, festival day, festivity, fete, fete day, fixed feast, fleeing, flourish of trumpets, furlough, gala, gala day, go on furlough, go on leave, half time, half-time intermission, hesitation, high day, holy day, hooky, interim, interlude, intermezzo, intermission, intermittence, interregnum, interruption, interval, jubilee, lapse, layoff, leave, leave of absence, leaving, legal holiday, letup, liberty, lull, make holiday, marking the occasion, memorialization, memory, nonappearance, nonattendance, observance, off-time, ovation, paid holiday, paid vacation, pause, plateau, point of repose, quiet, quiet spell, recess, red-letter day, rejoicing, relief, religious rites, remembrance, remission, respite, rest, restful, resting point, revel, rite, ritual observance, running away, sabbatical, sabbatical leave, sabbatical year, salute, salvo, shore leave, sick leave, solemn observance, solemnization, stand-down, stay, suspension, take a holiday, take leave, testimonial, testimonial banquet, testimonial dinner, time off, time out, toast, tribute, triumph, truancy, truantism, truce, unexcused absence, vacation, vacational, weekend
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1