A holiday is a day set aside by custom or by law in which normal activities, especially business or work, are to be suspended or reduced. Generally holidays are intended to allow individuals to celebrate or commemorate something 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, or even personal choices.
The concept of holidays has most often originated as 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 anything else.
In many societies there are important distinctions between holidays designated by governments and holidays designated by religious institutions. In many predominantly Christian nations, for example, government-designed holidays may center around Christian holidays though non-Christians may instead observe religious holidays associated with their faith. In some cases, a holiday may only be nominally observed. For example, many Jews in the Americas and Europe treat the relatively minor Jewish holiday of Chanukah as a working holiday, changing very little of their daily routines for this day.