Holiday: “a day on which ordinary occupations (of an individual or a community) are suspended; a day of exemption or cessation from work; a day of festivity, recreation, or amusement."

Oxford English Dictionary

Christmas is approaching fast now together with its associated holiday and I thought the season demanded more than just a rather bald definition. It seemed appropriate to look at this word ‘holiday’ and talk a bit about its origin.

Holiday’ is truly an English word deriving from the Anglo-Saxon language spoken in the 6th Century. In fact the word ‘day’ which we see in days of the week (Monday, Tuesday, etc...) as well as a stand alone word, comes from the Old English dæg "day" (so Mōnandæg, Tīwesdæg, etc...).  Hāligdæg is a combination of the Old English Hālig (meaning holy or sacred) and dæg.  Thus, holiday literally is a Holy Day.

The word’s spelling transformed over the centuries and the word ‘Hāligdæg’ ‘haliday. And then the 'a' in haliday was lost in favour of an 'o' to give us the familiar word holiday. Initially either holy day or holiday (first recorded in 1460) were used interchangeably.  But still, holiday referred exclusively to special religious days.  However, the definition expanded to include secular days as well such as ‘Bank Holiday’.

You might be interested to know that the name of the fish ‘halibut’ comes again from the Middle English hālig (holy)and butte, meaning (flat) fish.  Once it was not uncommon for people to eat halibut on a holy day and so the fish became known as halibut, the holy fish.  

But whatever you do this Christmas remember that it is first and foremost a Holy Day.

Happy Christmas from all the team

Tony Gilbert

Team Rector



Tony Gilbert

 Team Rector




Three Valleys Team Ministry


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Keep us, good Lord,

under the shadow of your mercy.

Sustain and support the anxious,

be with those who care for the sick,

and lift up all who are brought low;

that we may find comfort

knowing that nothing can separate us from your love

in Christ Jesus our Lord.



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The Reverend Tony Gilbert and his wife Nicola