Holidays and Holy Days

July 2, 2024

If we took a holiday
Took some time to celebrate
Just one day out of life
It would be, it would be so nice
Holiday sung by Madonna

Ahh…summertime! There is an air of excitement around the school in the weeks leading up to summer holidays; staff and students are in high spirits and ready to spend some time relaxing, myself included. The rhythm of summer holidays has been part of my groove for a very long time, first as a student , then as a teacher and parent, and now as an administrator. Anyone who works in schools is blessed to have this block of vacation, but we aren’t the only ones who treasure this time.

A few years ago there was some buzz in the educational community regarding year round schooling. The proponents of this initiative believe that students attending classes through the summer would have greater retention of information, therefore learning would increase. The idea never really caught on in North America. Traditionally, children were needed to work on the farm during the summer months and, although we have moved away from our farm roots, the notion of summer holidays is still a very strong part of our culture. It could be those long winters’ bundled under layers of clothing, but I think it has more to do with our sense of how special summer time was to us and the experiences we want for our kids.

Do you remember summertime when you were a kid? The weeks seemed to stretch on, with endless days of not much to do—certainly no set agenda. Sometimes we were bored, but active imaginations usually prevailed. We found all sorts of endeavours to occupy our time from fort building, to sprinkler escapades and lemonade stands. It was a carefree time, mostly just living in the moment. Occasionally there was an outing, but It didn’t matter if you went on a trip across the country or around the block, summer reigned supreme. Most of us feel a sense of nostalgia for those days, when you could ride a bike all afternoon or just lie on your back and look at the clouds. We want that same experience for our children, which is why summer holidays are still considered unchangeable, almost sacred.

Sacred is a good word for these days, considering that the word holiday comes from holy day. Originally, the word referred to days of special religious significance – a Saint’s feast day, Christmas or Easter and the like. In our modern lingo, holiday is interchangeable with vacation –time away from the usual work of the world. Still, there is something holy about those summer days of our youth and summer days now. As an adult, it is hard to be carefree. Sometimes though, just for a fleeting instant, we find ourselves truly present, paying attention to the moment we are in. It could be the slant of the sun through the trees, the smell of fresh cut grass or the sound of the birds in the morning that brings us out of ourselves and to an awareness of the world around us. The tug of a child’s hand is a great invitation to forget about work for awhile. As much as we teach our children, they help us to remember what is important and to re-learn the value of sitting by the fire with friends, walking by the water and playing catch. Holy days, indeed! Summer may not have the monopoly on these moments, but it certainly has a distinct advantage.

I hope that this summer provides you with some sacred moments and holy days. Enjoy the time with your family and I look forward to seeing everyone in September.

Christine McInnis