Portal:Holidays

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Introduction

A holiday is a day or other period of time set aside for festivals or recreation. Public holidays are set by public authorities and vary by state or region. Religious holidays are set by religious organisations for their members and are often also observed as public holidays in religious majority countries. Some religious holidays such as Christmas have become or are becoming secularised by part or all of those who observe it. In addition to secularisation, many holidays have become commercialised due to the growth of industry.

Holidays can be thematic, celebrating or commemorating particular groups, events or ideas, or non-thematic, days of rest which do not have any particular meaning. In Commonwealth English, the term can refer to any period of rest from work, such as vacations or school holidays. In American English, the holidays typically refers to the period from Thanksgiving to New Year's, which contains many important holidays in American culture. (Full article...)

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Hanukkah1.jpg

Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights or Festival of Rededication, is an eight-day Jewish holiday beginning on the 25th day of Kislev, which can occur in very late November, or throughout December. When Hanukkah begins in the last week of December, it continues into the following January. The festival is observed in Jewish homes by the kindling of lights on each of the festival's eight nights, one on the first night, two on the second, and so on.

In Hebrew, the word Hanukkah is written חנֻכה or חנוכה. The holiday was called Hanukkah meaning "dedication" because it marks the re-dedication of the Temple after its desecration under Antiochus IV. Spiritually, Hanukkah commemorates the Miracle of the Oil. According to the Talmud, at the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem following the victory of the Maccabees over the Seleucid Empire, there was only enough consecrated olive oil to fuel the eternal flame in the Temple for one day. Miraculously, the oil burned for eight days - which was the length of time it took to press, prepare and consecrate new oil.

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A Christmas Carol - Ignorance and Want.jpg

Ebenezer Scrooge is the main character in Charles Dickens' 1843 novel, A Christmas Carol. He is a very cold-hearted, selfish man, who has no love for Christmas, children, or anything that even provokes happiness. The story of his transformation by the three Ghosts of Christmas (Past, Present, and Yet to Come) has become a defining tale of the Christmas holiday in some cultures. Scrooge's phrase, "Bah, humbug!" has been used to express disgust with Christmas traditions in modern times. The inspiration for Charles Dickens' character was a grave marker for an Ebenezer Lennox Scroggie.

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Santa Claus 1863 Harpers.png
Credit: Thomas Nast
One of the earliest depictions of the modern Santa Claus by Thomas Nast, which appeared on the cover of the January 3, 1863 issue of Harper's Weekly. At this time, the image of Santa Claus had not yet merged with that of Father Christmas. This version was likely based on the Belsnickel ("Furry Nicholas"), a mythical being who visited naughty children in their sleep. This Santa was a man dressed up handing out gifts to Union Army soldiers.

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