“To the poet, to the philosopher, to the saint, all things are friendly and sacred, all events profitable, all days holy, all men divine.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Some religious words become secularized and evolve to be understood in nuanced ways. These words slowly creep into everyday jargon, and before you know it, their original definition is lost, forsaken, or simply overlooked. Holiday is one of those words.
Tracing its roots back to the 1400’s, holiday from Old English is defined as, “holy day, consecrated day, religious anniversary; Sabbath." But today the word is often synonymous with vacation, time away, or a break from a usual rhythm. Even well-intentioned people, wishing to not exclude anyone, will indiscriminately wish Happy Holidays as a nod towards the religious – without really understanding what this gesture entails.
To be holy is to be consecrated; to be blessed and set apart as godly or sacred. Holy is more than just a break from the usual or a day off from work or study. Holy is more than a vacation or a trip to a far-away land. Holy is more than sleeping in or bouts of leisure. Holy is more than a stop-gap between ordinary days. Holy is much more.
A holy day or season is one that holds significant meaning in the life of the faithful. For people of religious convictions, these days point to the essence of life itself, calling adherents to depth and reflection. These observances are not the time in-between, but those which are set apart. If framed in the proper way, these holy days end up enhancing every day.
For Jews, the holy days to come are Hanukkah, a season of dedication and renewal, one where G-d’s faithful light shines in a new house of prayer.
For Christians, the holy days to come are Advent, a season of preparation and disciplined waiting, leads to the holy days of Christmas, a season where God appears in the flesh to bring joy and life and peace.
In this spirit, I encourage all of us to set apart days and seasons of life for depth and reflection. In doing so, I believe life somehow becomes more precious. And that each day finds a bit more meaning; and may even be seized as a blessing and a gift.
May your holidays be holy days. And may you have the courage to understand your very life as sacred.

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Founded in 1960, Berkeley is an independent, Episcopal, college-preparatory day school located in Tampa, FL, for boys and girls in grades Pre-Kindergarten through 12. Approximately 1,400 students gather here from the greater Tampa Bay area to form ONE Berkeley.