Holidays have become necessarily part of every community and country. Holidays may be created as a result of political reasons such as the Independence Day celebration, Republic Day celebration among others, or based on religious grounds (Christmas, Eid, Easter among others). Both economic and social factors may also bring about the creating of holidays.
Holidays are usually days and periods when people take some time off from their normal daily activities to rest and to reflect on issues relating to the holiday or about their private businesses. Normally what people do on holidays differ from individuals, but collectively as a country how do we value the relevance of these holidays?
The aspect of having fun (parties and outing) has overshadowed other relevance and usefulness of public holiday celebrations. It will be very important for us as a nation to attach meaning to our public holiday celebrations and why these holidays are worth celebrating so as not to deny the current and future generations of the understanding of their rich historic past. This will also become a useful means to human development in the sense that it will help instill into the citizens some level of patriotism and national consciousness. For which ever reasons holidays are created, there is always a historical connection to either mark an event or to celebrate distinguished personalities and these reasons must be emphasized for there is a saying “a country which does not honor its heroes is not worth dying for”. The founder’s day celebration for instance must be properly celebrated by making the purpose of this day well known to the youth as it could be one of the most effective ways of instilling patriotism into the younger generation who will also wish to be celebrated in such manner some time to come.
Holidays are also good alternatives for the preservation of historical and cultural heritage. Histories and culture must not always be told in books but by any meaningful medium of communication that will get well to every individual in the society. It must be noted once again that there is always a history behind every holiday and this history must be narrated on these days so as to protect and preserve our cultural heritage. This should be a collective responsibility for the media, ministries, teachers and all other sectors concerned with the promotion of culture and national development to take some time off on every holiday to educate the public on the significance of the celebration.
The principal motive of public holidays is to maintain a sense of unity and cultural belonging among the people.
The pride and integrity of every nation largely depends on its rich historical and cultural norms passed on from generation to generation. When there is the failure to retell and create the consciousness of these holidays, first, we lose the opportunity of instilling patriotism into the younger generation, there will be no understanding of how things are done in the way they are today, again the rich historical values and cultural heritage of the nation begins to fade out with time which will eventually makes the celebration of these holidays meaningless and worthless. Public holidays unlike normal working days increase the engagement in the society and helps reduce the burden of our everyday working activities. It improves the quality of human life and society as these days create a perfect moment in which persons spend more time to think and reflect about improvement in the country or society. It must also be pointed out that Public holidays are important as these days have significance in the history of every nation because it reminds us of the importance of these days and guide the generation about the values and message associated with these days.
I agree with George Santayana who once wrote “a country without a memory is a country of madmen”. There will be no origin of our past and no sense of direction to the future if the purpose of the holiday is not retold so to preserve the histories whiles celebrating these events of national importance. It is therefore our responsibility as individuals, as families, as teachers, as government, as a nation or a country to make good use of public holidays so to protect our national pride.

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Joshua Gbati
Department of History
University of Education, Winneba.