What is a Holiday?

Jude Missa

Holiday is a special day when a country or place celebrates by cancelling work or classes for the day. It is derived from the ancient English term hāligdæg, which translates to Holy Day. Originally, this was a religious dedication, specifically by the Catholic Church, which was known as Precepts or Holy Days of Obligation. The church observed a special feast where the faithful were obligated to refrain their work to honor God, the Blessed Virgin Mary or the saints through procession, prayer, and fasting.

The church used to have 36 Holy Days of Obligation, but it was reduced to 8 by Pope St. Pius X. Now it has 10. These are the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ (Christmas), the Epiphany, the Ascension, the Body and Blood of Christ, Holy Mary the Mother of God, her Immaculate Conception, her Assumption, Saint Joseph, Saint Peter and Saint Paul the Apostles, and All Saints Day.

            In the Philippines, the Holy days of Obligations were part of the National Holidays, which include All Saints Day, Immaculate Conception, and the Nativity of our Lord (Christmas). The Longest National Holiday of the country is known as Holy Week, which lasts for four days. Government and private offices or businesses are closed from Maundy Thursday to Black Saturday. The faithful follow the Lenten tradition, which involves visiting the church, confessing, attending the Way of the Cross, performing the Passion Play called Senakulo, and Pabasa or Pasyon.

            Today, many faithful have forgotten the significance of the Holy Day of Obligations. Despite the busy work we have these days, it is important to observe these holy days to perform one’s Catholic faith and traditions to achieve and receive sanctifying grace.

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