It is no wonder, then, that the most celebrated holidays are from the world's religions. Most religions each have their own special festivals and special days, and many of these have similar themes and traditions. Many holidays are a time of family, fraternity and celebration while others are a time of penitence and self-reproach. Families gather together to share stories of holidays past, and pass the traditions of their faith along to younger generations. What better time to share stories of their beliefs than these holy days, .
From a secular point of view , holidays are usually a time of leisure, i.e. work holidays. However, most American holidays are in fact historical holidays and not religious. Out of the federal holidays only , Christmas and Good Friday are religious, In many cultures, America included, holidays have become highly commercialized. You can now walk into any department store at any time of year and likely see some type of holiday decorations, foods, clothing, etc. It comes as no surprise that during the winter holidays revenue increases up to 6 percent at retail stores "higher than at any other time of the year. .
Most of the well known religious holidays, especially Christian, have been modified from Pagan celebrations. Ancient Pagans, such as the Celts, practiced nature-based religions. Because of this, their holidays revolved around the weather and agriculture and their yearly cycle revolved around the lunar calendar. Most of their celebrations took place on either an equinox or solstice, and celebrated such things as the harvest in the fall, the fertility in the spring, and the increasing/decreasing energy of the sun. An equinox or solstice marks the first day of a season, i.e. spring, summer, winter, and fall. The winter solstice is the shortest day of the entire year and in contrast, the summer solstice is the longest. Because of the earth's tilt, our hemisphere is actually leaning farthest away from the sun.