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(from "holy day"), originally, a day of dedication to religious observance; in modern times, a day of either religious or secular commemoration. Many holidays of the major world religions tend to occur at the approximate dates of more ancient, pagan festivals. In the case of Christianity, this is sometimes owing to the policy of the early church of scheduling Christian observances at dates when they would eclipse pagan ones-a practice that proved more efficacious than merely prohibiting the earlier celebrations. In other cases, the similarity of the date is due to the tendency to celebrate turning points of the seasons, or to a combination of the two factors