The word ‘holiday‘ has related but different meanings in English-speaking countries, with the exception of the United States where usage differs greatly. Based on the English words holy and day, holidays originally represented special days of the Christian Church calendar. The word has evolved in general usage to mean any special day.
In the United States, a holiday is a day set aside by a nation or culture (in some cases, multiple nations and cultures) typically for celebration but sometimes for some other kind of special culture-wide (or national) observation or activity. In the United States, a holiday can also be a special day on which schools and/or offices are closed such as Labor Day.
In most of the rest of the English-speaking world (including Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United Kingdom) a holiday is rather a period spent away from home or business in travel or recreation (e.g., “I’m going on holiday to Majorca next week.”), the American equivalent being “vacation”.
A public holiday or legal holiday is a holiday endorsed by the state. Public holidays can be either religious, in that case, they reflect the dominant religion in a country, or secular, in that case, they are usually political or historical in character. “Public Holiday” is the term used in Australia, and “Bank Holiday” in the UK, although some industries in the UK work through Bank Holidays. “Legal Holiday” is not a term used outside the United States.
Consecutive holidays are a string of holidays taken together without working days in between. They tend to be considered a good chance to take short trips, for example. In the late 1990s, the Japanese government passed a law that increases the likelihood of consecutive holidays by moving holidays fixed on a certain day to a relative position in a month such as the second Monday.
A well-known consecutive holiday in Japan is golden-week, roughly lasting a whole week. A similar, phenomenon appears in Poland during the holidays of the 1st and 3rd of May when taking a few days of leave can result in even 9 days-long holidays. This is called the Picnic.
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