Merry holidays

In a comment to my previous post, I mentioned spotting a question on Stack Exchange from a school music teacher whose principal had banned ‘all holiday-related music from our performances’ because one family had chosen not to attend. S/he later refers to ‘Christmas and Chanuka songs’.

From around mid-December, mainstream and social media abound with opinions as to the rights and wrongs of saying ‘Merry Christmas’ or ‘Happy Holidays’, which I won’t weigh into. These reminded me something I’ve had on my ‘ideas for posts’ lists for several months. A document referred to an applicant returning to his country for ‘holyday’. Not holy day or holiday – holyday

Holidays were originally holy days, when most people didn’t work in order to attend church then feast and carouse on the village green. In Australian English, holiday now has probably three related meanings: a public holiday, on which most people don’t work but essential and service personnel do; annual leave, for most full-time, permanent employees, and a travelling vacation. I would not naturally say or write vacation; it sounds American to me, which Google Ngrams confirms. I would have to use either ‘I’m staying at home these holidays’/‘I’m having a holiday at home’ (some people use staycation but it’s still rare) or ‘I’m going away these holidays’. Because Christmas Day and Boxing Day fell on Saturday and Sunday this year, Monday 27 and Tuesday 28 were official public holidays. Most Australian businesses shut down completely between 25 Dec and 3 Jan inclusive, with 3 Jan being an official public holiday because 1 Jan also falls on a Saturday.


A pane in the glass

A document referred to someone working as a panebeater. I speculated whether that had something to do with making glass, or breaking it. I had never previously considered that panes and panels are related, from Middle French pan and Latin pannus, a piece of cloth. Panels are, literally, little panes

Nowadays, a pane is almost certainly glass, though also records it in connection with wood panelling, while a panel can be wood, metal, plastic, glass or people. We probably say pane of glass and glass panel, though, while wood panel and panel of wood etc are probably interchangeable. (Note expert panel and panel of experts.) Panels overlap with boards, in referring to both the pieces of wood and the people who sit at them.