A holiday is a time set aside by law or custom where normal daily activities, particularly work or school including church, are either suspended or completely curtailed. In general, such holidays are planned to allow people to commemorate or celebrate an event or belief of significant cultural or historical importance. Holidays are also associated with the onset of spring, as well as a return to more relaxed, pleasurable routines after summer and autumn. While we all tend to associate the word “holiday” with bright, festive days filled with gifts and food, a holiday can be a time of peace and rest, with family and friends spending time together doing small things like going out for dinner or visiting relatives. Here, we take a look at some of the types of holidays commonly used these days.
The most common type of holiday, Thanksgiving, falls between October and November and features a series of related activities in which food is cooked and shared. Thanksgiving is widely regarded as a holiday that encourages eating outdoors on dark and cold nights, and many local communities have developed special Thanksgiving festivals or events. While thanksgiving might sound like a perfect reason for getting away from it all, the fact is that thanksgiving, like almost every holiday, is also highly commercialized and stressful, and many non-native Americans, particularly those who do not live in the southern United States, do not celebrate Thanksgiving properly.
Several large US corporations, including Yum Brands, offer regular two-day weekends where employees are encouraged to take off and spend the weekend in their hometowns. Major hotels and resorts also participate in national, state and county-wide employee holiday parties. Many hotels offer packages for entire groups of employees, including parents and children, while others provide special deals for couples or singles. While it is not unusual for corporations to encourage employees to celebrate religious holidays like thanksgiving, some large companies have adopted stances against doing so, on the basis that it causes work problems and negatively affects their business reputation. Such companies are Starbucks, Sherry’s Restaurant and the University of Phoenix, which recently changed its name to “The University of Phoenix.”
In contrast, smaller companies usually do not make any effort to publicly celebrate holidays other than Christmas and Hanukkah. Most often, Christmas and Hanukkah are observed on December 25th, which is a public holiday in countries where Christianity is the dominant faith. In the United States, however, public celebrations of these two feasts are generally kept on the afternoon of December 24th, when most employees are home for the holidays. Some companies, like Wal-Mart, have chosen to observe both holidays at the same time, though, as Wal-Mart stores frequently experience Christmas traffic during the three day period. Major companies, including McDonald’s, have taken the initiative to stage their own versions of Christmas shows and parades, while smaller companies tend to leave things largely up to local municipalities to arrange.
Although businesses tend to be much more conservative with their public image than private citizens, businesses can still choose to publicly celebrate holidays in a number of ways. Some companies will give their staff a paid day off to go on vacation during the holidays, which employees are always excited about. Others will send employees an email or note announcing a holiday break. And some companies will go so far as to send television and print media advertisements about the holidays to help spread the word.
In addition to company-sponsored holidays, some workers like the idea of “floating holidays,” in which they take an extended holiday break and return to work five days later. Several major corporations have adopted this approach, providing paid time off and increased productivity on short notice. One example of this type of holiday is the “green” holiday. Some companies, such as Verizon, which owns a majority of Verizon FiOS services in the United States, have adopted a policy of offering six month vacations at designated places around the world every year. In this manner, instead of having their employees travel and taking a long break in the vacation zone, they actually get several months of great beach, hiking, and other outdoor adventures that help them relax and get in shape before returning to the office for another year of work.