According to my husband, who always has bits of trivia to share, a book he recently read stated the reason Americans use the term vacation while Europeans more commonly use the term holiday dates back to when folks on the East Coast of the U.S. began leaving the cities in the summer to spend that time on the coast or in the mountains. Writers began referring to the vacated cities and the use of the term vacation took off.
I thought about this difference as I listened to a young British mum on the plane from London to Rome discussing with her daughter their weekend holiday. I decided there is a difference in perception of a vacation versus a holiday. A vacation (vacating) is leaving one place, while a holiday is celebrating another place. There are times when we definitely need to leave work and responsibilities behind and I’m happy to take a vacation in that sense, even if it’s only for an afternoon (this could also be called playing hooky), but when I travel to someplace I love, whether it’s Sunriver, Disneyland or Italy or perhaps places I haven’t yet been, I want to celebrate being in that place, at that moment. I want to revel in the beauty and culture. I want to feel myself relax into whatever the day-to-day routine is for that place. So, right now while I may technically be on vacation from work and family responsibilities, I’m really celebrating being on holiday in Italy.