Origin Stories Behind 20 Holidays

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More than just a day to rest or have fun, holidays often call on people to celebrate, reflect, or engage with their families and communities. Some holidays are geared toward commemorating special events and people, while others are born from religions.

Various other holidays were created to encourage awareness and to help fix some of society’s biggest problems. Many of the most important and catalytic moments of history or people are marked as holidays, including Juneteenth, Canada Day, and the observance of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday.

Holidays also are integral aspects of many of the world’s religions. These days of observance offer participants a chance to reflect on their relationships with their belief systems or to celebrate with family and friends.

Sometimes such holidays are used to consider the sacrifices people have made for their religions. Below, Stacker looks at the origins of holidays such as Holi, Purim, and Christmas from the Hindu, Jewish, Christian faiths.

Many of the more recent holidays center around raising awareness about issues and events around the world, such as Earth Day and Employee Appreciation Day.

Stacker examined the origin stories behind some holidays across the globe. Read on to learn more about how some of your favorite holidays—and some holidays you may never have heard of—came to be.

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