Make Holidays into Holy Days, Not Just Days Off


In most cases, holidays weren’t created to give us more leisure time but to commemorate or celebrate something. The word itself comes from the phrase “holy days” as they were originally days of greater religious significance than even the Judeo-Christian sabbath. However, these days many people ignore the significance of holidays. Americans spend Memorial Day at the lake and Canadians eschew their Remembrance Day poppies. I’m going to tell you why you should faithfully observe holidays and help you figure out how. 

Why You Should Observe Holidays

All holidays were created for a purpose. There are a few that exist just to create leisure time but most have a grander purpose. If you ignore that purpose it can be like a slap in the face to the people it honours. In the case of Remberance Day in Canada or Memorial Day in the US, not commemorating the enormous sacrifice that the warriors of the past have made is  really the same as saying you don’t appreciate it. I’m not saying you have to base everything on the reason for the holiday or add religious significance where none exists, or even honour something you don’t believe deserves it. If you don’t feel right about honouring something, you don’t need to feel obligated to refuse to take the day off. 

How You Can Faithfully Observe Holidays

If you’ve decided you need to more faithfully observe holidays you need to figure out how you’ll do it. For some holidays that’s easy, but others are more difficult. 

The Reason for the “Season”

I said before, every holiday exists for a reason. If you’re going to observe a holiday properly, you need to know what it’s about. Start by doing a little research. A quick Wikipedia search will often give you some good insights but even better are government agencies like Canadian Heritage or organizations related to the holiday in some way, like the Royal Canadian Legion for Remembrance Day. If none of those are helpful, the name of the holiday is usually a pretty good clue, but be careful the name may have been chosen more to sound impressive than represent the meaning of the day. 

You’ll also want to consider what the day means to you personally, especially if most people just treat it as a day off. Many holidays have had their significance expanded on over the millennia, so you can do it too. 

Once you’ve figured out what the holiday means it’ll guide your future observances. 

Have a Party

Parties can be a great way to observe celebratory holidays, like national independence days. You can host one yourself or attend someone else’s. If you host it yourself the theme must be the holiday and you need to base your decor on reminders of its meaning. 

Create a Ritual

A ritual may not be appropriate for all occasions but there’s nothing that more effectively creates solemnity and sacredness. A ritual doesn’t have to be religious in nature unless it’s part of a religious observance. A ritual is simply any act that has no obvious relationship with its effect. Also it’s great to include others in your ritual, especially children. 

When you’re creating your ritual, you’ll want to pay close attention to the symbolism involved. If you include flowers, use flowers that represent something about the holiday. Same goes for whatever colours you give attention to. Even the schedule of your day can have important ritual symbolism. Many in my circles regard having a meal following a funeral to symbolise the continuance of our lives without the deceased.

Stick To It

Once you’ve settled on how you’re going to observe a holiday, you need to try to make it an annual tradition.  They don’t have to be completely non-negotiable but you do need to try.

Include Holidays From Your Own Life

Whoever said only governments and religions can create holidays? Things in your own life deserve the same honour, as long as you don’t try to force them on the general public. You shouldn’t have any difficulty figuring out what they’re about. 


I’ll leave you with a promise to bring you more holiday related articles and the most important rule of all; however you choose to observe a holiday, make it meaningful to you. 

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