We all like to say in the events industry that “the concept of events have been around forever”. Usually this comes up whenever we sit around marveling at how we didn’t really become an organized industry until about 30 years ago. But, it’s one of those sayings that I haven’t really cared to think more about until now. As a humanity — as a biological species that’s been around for hundreds of thousands of years — what was the origins of this concept of organized events?
I would argue first and foremost, that humanity probably had to have first been organized into civilizations before we can count anything according to this concept of “planned events”. Previous to that, survival events like maybe the coordinated hunting and gathering efforts that I’m sure went on with groups of homo sapiens, are just too far removed from what we call “planned events” as the industry uses the term today. Which brings me to the musings on this concept of holidays. Every country, culture, race, and religion has their own versions of holidays throughout the year. It would hardly be a stretch to imagine, that this practice dates back to as early as the first human civilizations were created. Perhaps, then, the “holiday” is humanity’s first and original type of planned event…
From an etymological history’s perspective, the word “holiday” was first created out of an Old English Christian term used to refer to what we now call “Sundays”. Back when people didn’t want to come across as ones who worshipped the sun, the 7th day of each week when God took his rest was referred to as the “holy day”, an occassion people observed by taking the day off from work. Of course, the concept of a holiday as a day of some-sort-of-commemorating-for-some-sort-of-thing dates back well before this English term was created to describe it. Each language has their own terminology for this concept obviously, and not all of them have an etymological root in religion.
Holidays are created for different reasons, and are adopted and observed by varying scales of humanity. There are religious holidays like Christmas and Easter, political holidays like our Memorial Day and our Fourth of July, and there are also of course, holidays specific to a certain culture, like our Thanksgiving. Most cultures have some kind of celebration for New Years, though not all cultures celebrate this according to the Gregorgian Calendar. The Chinese New Years for example still happens according to the Lunar Calendar, even though China has adopted the Gregorgian Calendar since 1912 for official use elsewhere.
Discounting the obscure holidays like that Buzzfeed note about how some people have actually been taking the day off for Beyonce’s Birthday nowadays, I would say that the origins of the concept of “publicly observed holidays” is probably the origins of this concept we call “planned events” from a human civilization’s perspective. A planned event is, after all, conceptually just a special occassion of some sort; a moment that was mindfully designed for a purpose rather than something that just happened by chance. A public holiday is a coherent society of people agreeing to observe a special occasion for a special reason. Whether these holidays involve a ritualistic way of celebration productions (like fireworks for the 4th of July, among examples of course from many other holidays) or just a day off from work, the concept of it does reasonably relate into what we consider in the events industry to be “an event”.
See you at the next exploration!