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Holidays are Holy Days

As we open up our calendars, we’ll see many holidays throughout this year. Those days are more than just opportunities to have fun; they are opportunities to connect with God and be inspired with awe. We can encounter wonder when we celebrate holidays as holy days this year.


The word “holiday” itself has deep roots in spirituality, originating from the words “holy day.” In its earliest usage, a holiday denoted a day set apart for connecting with God. This connection to the sacred invites us to rediscover the significance of holidays as more than just fun days, but as opportunities to experience the wonder of God at work in our lives.


Recently, I visited Colonial Williamsburg, which is a living museum in Virginia that brings the past to life so we can learn from it today. I took a tour that focused on how the people living there centuries ago celebrated holidays. They followed a liturgical calendar rooted in the rhythms of their church. That calendar guided them through a sequence of holy seasons and celebrations – each with its own unique significance. Colonists celebrated holidays such as Christmastide (the Christmas season), Eastertide (the Easter season), Whitsunday (Pentecost), and Michaelmas (the end of the harvest year). They celebrated in fun ways – such as parties and balls – but they did so with a sense of reverence and gratitude. Rather than separating God from their holidays, they infused their holidays with deep meaning by seeking God and celebrating God’s work in their lives.


As we celebrate holidays throughout this year, we can discover wonder by incorporating the timeless spiritual practices of prayer and meditative reflection into our celebrations. Prayer is simply talking to God, while meditation is simply listening to God. By shifting our perspective to see those practices as opportunities rather than obligations, we can start enjoyable prayer and meditation habits. Every holiday – and every single day of our lives – is a gift from God to us. Our generous God wants us to stay in frequent communication with him. Philippians 4:6 encourages us: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” Don’t worry – “pray about everything” doesn’t mean that we should spend all of our time praying (which isn’t practical)! Instead, it means developing a state of mind in which we’re aware of God’s constant presence with us and trusting God to help us moment by moment.


We can also find inspiration this year by living according to the natural rhythms that God has designed, learning and celebrating the wonders of each season. Many of the holy days in the liturgical calendar celebrate seasonal wonders. In my book Wake Up to Wonder, I write about how each season offers transcendent experiences which are only available during that particular time. We can learn from the beauty of each season by reflecting on its distinctive symbolism. Spring symbolizes renewal, summer represents vitality, fall symbolizes wisdom, and winter represents contemplation.


The Bible encourages us to: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). By intentionally living each day with an appreciation for the gift that it is, we open our hearts and minds to experience wonder at any time. That’s something to celebrate!


Every holiday throughout this year is an invitation for us to discover glimpses of God’s wonderful work in our lives. So, let’s reclaim the holiness of holidays. Let’s infuse our celebrations with a sense of sacred purpose by using them to connect with God through wonder. I pray that this year will be a wonder-full year for you!





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