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c.1200, "religious anniversary characterized by rejoicing" (rather than fasting), from Old French feste (12c., Modern French fête) "religious festival; noise, racket," from Vulgar Latin *festa (fem. singular; also source of Italian festa, Spanish fiesta), from Latin festa "holidays, feasts," noun use of neuter plural of festus "festive, joyful, merry," related to feriae "holiday" and fanum "temple," from PIE *dhes- "root of words in religious concepts" [Watkins]. The spelling -ea- was used in Middle English to represent the sound we mis-call "long e." Meaning "abundant meal" (whether public or private) is from late 14c.
c.1300, "partake of a feast," from Old French fester, from feste (see feast (n.)). Related: Feasted; feasting.
as a mark of hospitality (Gen. 19:3; 2 Sam. 3:20; 2 Kings 6:23); on occasions of domestic joy (Luke 15:23; Gen. 21:8); on birthdays (Gen. 40:20; Job 1:4; Matt. 14:6); and on the occasion of a marriage (Judg. 14:10; Gen. 29:22). Feasting was a part of the observances connected with the offering up of sacrifices (Deut. 12:6, 7; 1 Sam. 9:19; 16:3, 5), and with the annual festivals (Deut. 16:11). "It was one of the designs of the greater solemnities, which required the attendance of the people at the sacred tent, that the oneness of the nation might be maintained and cemented together, by statedly congregating in one place, and with one soul taking part in the same religious services. But that oneness was primarily and chiefly a religious and not merely a political one; the people were not merely to meet as among themselves, but with Jehovah, and to present themselves before him as one body; the meeting was in its own nature a binding of themselves in fellowship with Jehovah; so that it was not politics and commerce that had here to do, but the soul of the Mosaic dispensation, the foundation of the religious and political existence of Israel, the covenant with Jehovah. To keep the people's consciousness alive to this, to revive, strengthen, and perpetuate it, nothing could be so well adapated as these annual feasts." (See FESTIVALS.)
day or period of time set aside to commemorate, ritually celebrate or reenact, or anticipate events or seasons-agricultural, religious, or sociocultural-that give meaning and cohesiveness to an individual and to the religious, political, or socioeconomic community. Because such days or periods generally originated in religious celebrations or ritual commemorations that usually included sacred community meals, they are called feasts or festivals.