Portal:Holidays

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Introduction

A holiday is a day set aside by custom or by law on which normal activities, especially business or work including school, are suspended or reduced. Generally, holidays are intended to allow individuals to celebrate or commemorate an event or tradition of cultural or religious significance. Holidays may be designated by governments, religious institutions, or other groups or organizations. The degree to which normal activities are reduced by a holiday may depend on local laws, customs, the type of job held or personal choices.

The concept of holidays often originated in connection with religious observances. The intention of a holiday was typically to allow individuals to tend to religious duties associated with important dates on the calendar. In most modern societies, however, holidays serve as much of a recreational function as any other weekend days or activities.

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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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Groundhog.jpg

Punxsutawney Phil is a groundhog and the most famous resident of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. On February 2 (Groundhog's Day) of each year, the town of Punxsutawney celebrates the beloved groundhog with a festive atmosphere of music and food. During the ceremony, which begins well before the winter sunrise, Phil emerges from his temporary home on Gobbler's Knob, located in a rural area about 2 miles east of town. According to the tradition, if Phil sees his shadow and returns to his hole, the United States will suffer six more weeks of winter. If Phil does not see his shadow, spring will arrive early.

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Catalonian Sun Goddess.jpg
Credit: flickr, Stuart Yeates
Catalonian Sun Goddess from the Hogmanay Street Party, Edinburgh, 2005.

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