God had festivals and holidays for us in mind from the very beginning. When He created the heavens and the earth and all that is in them, He said on the fourth day of creation week, ‘Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years…”’ Genesis 1:14. The Hebrew word here for ‘seasons’ not only has to do with climate, but also includes the idea of festive gatherings, or seasonal celebration. Thus, the sun, the moon and the stars are our great calendar in the sky.
If you think that this is all a bit too ‘religious’ then keep in mind that the word ‘holiday’ comes from the Old English for holy day. Like the sun, the moon and the stars, a proper understanding of the 4th Commandment will shed light upon God’s original intention for us. The words ‘day’ and ‘holy’ should now leap out at you: ‘Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work .... For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.’ Exodus 20:8-11. To sabbath is to rest. That is what a holiday is, a rest. A sabbatical is related. Noting that some Christians get entangled in red tape trying to keep the Lord’s Day, while some jettison the Fourth to leave only Nine Commandments, and others argue about which day of the week the sabbath ought to fall on, God is telling us to rest from our usual labours for one day out of every seven. He has set it apart for us. We ought to do likewise. He has given it to us as a holy day, a holiday. As the Son of Man says, ‘The Sabbath was made for man…’ Mark 2:27.Notice that God, after He had made the ‘calendar’, as it were ‘circled’ the Sabbath day by blessing it and setting it apart: ‘Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God … rested … from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made’ Genesis 2:1-3.
Up till the time of Jesus and the subsequent demolition of the Temple at Jerusalem there were four quarterly festivals, viz, Spring, Unleavened Bread/Passover (Matthew 26:17-20), Summer, Harvest/Pentecost (Acts 2:1), Autumn, Ingathering/Tabernacles (John 7:2), and Winter, Dedication/Lights (John 10:22). All these Old Testament festivals pointed to Jesus and ended with Him. The Temple’s destruction signified this. Jesus is where we go to meet with God, not the Temple at Jerusalem. Jesus says, ‘For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them’ Matthew 18:20. This of course refers to His churches dotted all over the planet.
A plethora of holy days and Christian festivals have been added to the Christian calendar over the centuries, Christmas and Easter being the two main ones. But keep in mind that God wants you to have holidays. He wants you, like Adam in the Garden, once week to put down your gardening tools and leave all your other daily labours, to rest and to meet with Him. When you are lying on a beach or skiing down a slope or whatever on vacation, remember who your holidays originally came from.