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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 or associated with traditions. 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 functions as any other weekend days or activities. (Full article...)

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The Winter solstice or Midwinter, depending on the shift of the calendar, occurs some time between December 20 and December 23 in the Northern Hemisphere, and between June 20 and June 23 in the Southern Hemisphere, during either the shortest day or longest night of the year. Though the winter solstice lasts an instant, the term is also colloquially used to refer to the full 24-hour day on which it occurs.

The seasonal significance of the winter solstice is in the reversal of the gradually lengthening nights and shortening days. Worldwide, interpretation of the event has varied from culture to culture, but most cultures have held a recognition of rebirth, involving holidays, festivals, gatherings, rituals or other celebrations around that time.

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Guy Fawkes (13 April 1570 – 31 January 1606), also known as Guido Fawkes was an English military man and member of a group of Roman Catholics who attempted to carry out the Gunpowder Plot on 5 November 1605. "The Gunpowder Plot" was a plan to assassinate the Protestant King James I and the members of both houses of the Parliament of England, by blowing up Westminster Palace, in which the king addressed a joint assembly of both the House of Lords and the House of Commons. His activities were detected before the plan's completion, and following a severe interrogation involving the use of torture and a trial in Westminster Hall, he and his co-conspirators were executed for treason and attempted murder. Fawkes's failure (or the attempt) is remembered by Guy Fawkes Night (also known as Bonfire Night or Fireworks Night) on 5 November.

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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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