Did you know that British people use the word “holiday” to refer to a vacation? They often use the word in the phrase “on holiday.” In the beginning the word “holiday” referred to religious observance on a specific day. In today's world the word has taken on a much broader meaning. A holiday can be an official or unofficial one. Holidays can be significant religiously, culturally or nationally and often involve festivities or celebrations. Sometimes people are given time off from work for the holiday and sometimes they are not. It depends on many factors such as their job and the particular holiday. The following section is a guide divided into the twelve months of the year with links to holidays around the world which occur during each month. Each link will provide you with information regarding the specific holiday such as what it is, its history, rituals involved with it and other pertinent information.
New Year's Day (January 1):A look at the history behind New Year's and some of the traditions.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (The third Monday in January): Official website of the MLK Day of Service.
Chinese New Year (January 1st each year): “Columbus State Community College” offers an excellent article on Chinese New Year which begins on January 1st each year.
Australia Day (January 26th each year): The “Australia Day” website explains what it is and the history of the day.
Twelfth Night (Evening of 5 January): A festival in some branches of Christianity marking the conclusion of the Twelve Days of Christmas.
Solnal/Seoullal Korean New Year (PDF) (first day of the lunar month): The “George Mason University” PDF has a section on New Year's around the world including Solnal which is the Korean New Year.
Pongal (January 14 each year): The “Pongal Festival” website explains that it is a Hindu festival celebrated on January 14th each year as well as many other relevant facts.
Burns Night (around January 25th each year): The “Time and Date” website provides information on what Burns Night is, how it is celebrated in Scotland around Janury 25th, and other relevant information.
Tu B'Shevat (15th day of Shevat): The “Judaism 101” website explains what Tu B'Shevat is, the customs involved with it and also provides the dates for it for the next few years.
Groundhog Day (February 2nd): The “Stormfax” website explains the history of Groundhog Day, the movie, facts about the groundhog and a fascinating chart of past years and whether the ground saw his shadow.
Valentine's Day (February 14): The “History” website explains the legend of St.Valentine and the day's origins as well as how it is a day of romance. It also provides typical greetings that are involved.
Presidents' Day (Third Monday in February): Games and other activities for kids to learn about Presidents Day
Black History Month:A month long celebration of achievements by African Americans and important milestones throughout U.S. history
Navratri (PPT) (beginning of autumn on lunar calendar): The “Tufts University” PPT provides information on its meaning and significance, the rituals involved, how it is celebrated and the traditional foods.
Nirvana Day (February 8): The “BBC” discusses the day, how it is celebrated and explains reflecting.
Shivaratri (the 13th or 14th day of the dark half of Phalgun which is usually in February or March): The website provides an introduction to the holiday, the story of King Chitrabhanu, the ritual's spiritual significance and the Lord Shiva's assurance.
St. Patrick's Day (March 17th): The website tells all about St. Patrick and his special day.
Shrove Tuesday (the day before the beginning of Lent): The article explains how Shrove Tuesday is also called Fat Tuesday and how it is celebrated.
Mardi Gras (the day before Ash Wednesday): The website provides information on the history of Mardi Gras, the Krewes and parades, the King Cake and the throws, balls and music.
Ash Wednesday (Wednesday in seventh week before Easter): A look at the history and meaning of Ash Wednesday.
Lent (Ash Wednesday to Maundy Thursday): FAQs about Lent
International Women's Day (March 8): Holiday that celebrates the respect, appreciation and love towards women to a celebration for women's economic, political and social achievements.
Purim (14th day of Adar which is usually in March): The “Jewish Virtual Library” website provides a list of dates for Purim as well as holiday background information and traditional foods.
Sizdeh Bedar (the 13th day of the New Year): The site explains all about Sizdeh Bedar and the dodging of the thirteenth day of the New Year. It provides fun rituals and different versions of the tradition.
Jamshedi Navroz (March 21st): The site explains how Mujahedin Navroz is a festival of hope, life and color and its origins.
Holi (on Phalgun Purnima which is typically the end of February or beginning of March): The “Holi” website tells you everything you need to know about the holiday including its history, its rituals, its significance and a lot of other relevant and fun information.
St. David's Day (March 1st): The website discusses who St. David was and his celebration.
Easter (first Sunday after the full moon after the spring equinox): The “All About Jesus Christ” website explains the history of Easter.
Passover (15th day of Nisan): Games, activities and more for kids to learn about Passover.
Good Friday (Friday immediately preceding Easter): This holiday is observed primarily by Christians commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death.
April Fool's Day (April 1st): The “April Fool's” website discusses the history of the celebration and also provides prank ideas for this special day.
Ching Ming (April 5th): The “Chinese Historical and Cultural Project” website explains that Ching Ming is “grave-sweeping day” and discusses its origin and rituals.
Anzac Day (April 25th nationwide): The “New Zealand” website discusses the history of Anzac Day and its national services and events.
St. George's Day (April 23rd): The site discusses St. George and the history of England's national day as well as how it is celebrated.
Songkran (begins on April 13th): The “Thailand Life” website discusses the Songkran Festival and offers many links to other articles explaining its origins, how it is celebrated and other relevant information.
Arbor Day (Final Friday in April): A holiday where people are encouraged to plant and care for trees.
Earth Day (Earth Day is planned for April 22 in all years at least through 2015): An annual day on which events are held to increase awareness and appreciation of the environment
Mother's Day (typically the second Sunday of May): The “Mother's Day Central” website provides an excellent history of the celebration, a list of the countries it is celebrated in as well as information on how it is celebrated.
Memorial Day (last Monday in May): The site provides a very in-depth look at the history of Memorial Day.
Victoria Day (Monday before May 25th): The “Victoria Day Festival” website provides a brief history of the celebration.
Cinco de Mayo (May 5th): The site explains the background of Cinco de Mayo and also provides images.
May Day (May 1st): The “NBC Chicago” website offers an excellent article on the history of May Day.
Vesak (during the full moon in May or June): The “Boston” website states that Vesak Day is often referred to as “Buddah's birthday” and it explains how it is celebrated along with beautiful pictures.
Father's Day (third Sunday in June): “Disney's Family Fun” website explains the history behind Father's Day.
Flag Day (June 14th): The website provides an excellent history of Flag Day.
Summer Solstice (June 21st): The “Religious Tolerance” website offers a good overview of the celebration as well as an explanation of why summer solstice occurs, the significance of it and how it is celebrated throughout the world.
Chinese Dragon Boat Festival (the fifth day of the fifth lunar month): The “Travel China Guide” website provides an introduction to the boat festival as well as information regarding the legend of Qu Yuan and the customs that are involved with the celebration.
Ratha Yatra (June and July): The site explains the “Festival of Chariots” and its history as well as festival details and frequently asked questions.
Midsummer's Eve (June 20th): The “A Global World” website explains the history of the celebration in Finland and related traditions, customs and activities.
Fourth of July (July 4th): The “USA Government” website briefly explains what the Fourth of July is and provides links regarding relevant information such as fun facts about it and the day in history.
Canada Day (July 1st): The “Canada Day” website provides information on the history of the celebration and its fireworks and activities.
Obon (originally between the 13th and 16th of the seventh month of the lunar calendar): The “TokyoTopia” website explains what Obon is, when it is, the story behind it, the history of it and Toro-Nagashi.
Tanabata (July 7th): The “Kids Web Japan” website explains the story behind Tanabata and rituals involved with it.
Raksha Bandhan (late August): The article explains what Raksha Bandhan is and explores the possible deeper meanings behind it.
Hiroshima Day (August 6th): The “Dunedin Public Libraries” website explains what Hiroshima Day represents and how it is observed.
Janmashtami (August 10th): The website is dedicated to Janmashtami and provides you with all the pertinent information you may desire such as the legend of it and the rituals involved.
Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (August 15th): The “Women for Faith & Family” website provides an excellent article about the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary as well as how it is observed and prayers and devotions for it.
Labor Day (the first Monday in September): The “United States Department of Labor” website provides information on the history of Labor Day such as how the day came about, the founder of the day and the first Labor Day.
National Grandparents Day (the first Sunday after Labor Day): The wonderful “Grandparents” website explains what Grandparents Day is and when it is held as well as provides songs, poems, quotes, activities and crafts for the special day.
International Day of Peace (September 21st): The website explains what the day is and how you can celebrate it.
Autumnal Equinox (September 22nd or 23rd): The “University of Kansas Medical Center” website discusses what exactly the autumnal equinox is.
Onam (between August and September): The “I Love India” website provides a lot of information on Onam such as its history, legends, rituals and gifts.
See You at the Pole (fourth Wednesday in September): The “See You at the Pole” website explains what the day is about and how you can become involved.
Rosh Hashanah (Start of first day of Tishrei): The site provides an excellent article which explains what Rosh Hashanah is and how it is celebrated.
Halloween (October 31st): The “Halloween History” website discusses the history of the holiday and how it is celebrated.
Columbus Day (Second Monday in October): Crafts and activities for kids to learn about Columbus Day.
Dia de la Raza (October 12th): The website explains the history of Dia de la Raza.
Sukkot (the 15th to 22nd of Tishri): The “Hebrew 4 Christians” website provides an introduction to Sukkot, discusses going from Yom Kippur to Sukkot and explains the great fall harvest festival and Sukkot in the scriptures among other relevant information.
Oktoberfest (traditionally begins in the third weekend of September and ends the first Sunday of October): The “Ofest” website explains what Oktoberfest is and discusses the 177th Oktoberfest in 2010.
Canadian Thanksgiving (second Monday in October): The “Thanksgiving November” website explains the history and origin of Canadian Thanksgiving as well as three traditions behind it.
Thanksgiving (4th Thursday in November in U.S.): A national holiday honoring the early settlers and Native Americans and their harvest.
Veterans Day (November 11th): The “United States Department of Veterans Affairs” website explains the ceremony regarding National Veterans Day and offers a link regarding the history of the day.
Guy Fawkes Day (November 5th): The “Bonfire Night” website discusses the gunpowder plot of 1605 and Bonfire Night as well as offers related goods and books.
Eed-ul-Fitr (first day of Shaw'waal): The site explains what the Eed-ul-Fitr is, the Sunnah of Eid, how to offer Eid prayer as well as the structure of the Eid prayer.
All Saints and All Souls (November 1st): The “Catholic Education Resource Center” explains the origins of All Saints and All Souls Day and whether they are linked with paganism and Halloween.
Diwali (a new moon day in October or November): “The Huffington Post” offers an article regarding what Diwali is and how it is being celebrated in the U.S.
Christmas (December 25th): The “History of Christmas” website provides information on the history of Christmas and traditions regarding the holiday around the world as well as the history of Santa Claus.
Kwanzaa (December 26th to January 1st): The “Official Kwanzaa Website” provides information on the seven principles, the symbols, gifts and many other relevant things.
Chanukah: The site offers information on many Chanukah subjects such as the miracle of it and eight reasons for eight days.
Las Posadas (December 16th to 24th): The article briefly explains the holiday and how it is celebrated.
St. Nicholas Day (December 6th): The “St. Nicholas Center” website discusses the holiday and how it is celebrated around the world.
Boxing Day (December 26):A look at British Christmas customs and traditions.
Mummering (old twelfth): The “Mummering” website discusses the background, the history and the different types of Mummering as well as other relevant information.