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"H" Topics and Links!

The History Behind Holidays

History really is HIS story. But in our increasingly secular culture, many people have lost touch with the history behind the holidays which we celebrate. Valentine's, St. Patrick's Day, Easter, Halloween and Christmas all have their origins hundreds of years ago, some are approaching 2,000 years old! Let's take a brief tour of some holidays, and get a feel for part of our heritage.

A peek into a dictionary will reveal that the word "holiday" actually means "holy day," a religious festival. These were days that were set aside by custom, to celebrate a specific event. As with most of our topics in our "More Lists and Links" department, you'll find that all of this makes more sense if you have already read the "Contents!" of the ABCs of Faith.

In the Middle Ages, for example, when people did primarily manual labor to earn their keep, the "holy days", where days when attendence at Mass was required. Such holy days were days of rest, just like Sundays were days of rest. The number of holy days was actually quite numerous in the Middle Ages, something of a surprise to many people who incorrectly think of that period as one of endless drudgery. Many people today work far more days each year than did their ancestors hundreds of years ago! So the religious feasts, the holy days, were days of relaxation that truly were celebrated and enjoyed by all the people according to their means. Prayer and Mass were common elements, as were processions that were the forerunner of our modern parades.

Let's take a brief survey of some prominent holidays, to get a better feel for our link to the past.

'Christ's Mass' is the origin of the word 'Christmas.'


Since holidays were "holy days," they typically were associated with a saint's feast day or some other celebration in the Catholic calander. "Christ's Mass" was the special feast day Mass used to remind the people about the Nativity or Birth of our Lord. In Olde English, this was spelled, "Cristes maesse."

We know that this feast day was well established by the sixth century A.D.. Scholars believe that December 25th was chosen to celebrate the Birth of Jesus, the Son of God, as a way of replacing the old pagan holiday of the 'unconquered son' which the Roman Empire observed. So the choice of this date wasn't, as some think, a way of paganizing Christians, it was just the opposite! This was a way that the early Church transformed a pagan feast into an opportunity to teach others about the importance of the Birth of the Savior into the world. Since the Pholocalian Calender marked Christmas on December 25th, we know that this holiday dates back to at least 336 A.D..

More coming soon... so Check back to continue the "History Behind Holidays" Tour

Link to Desire for Health, an article submitted by Rich S, thanks!

Need something to make your day a bit brighter?

Then click here for
'Humor to Lighten Whatever is Getting to You'

All the Holiness, an article submitted by Rich S, thanks!


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