Holidays Learning Journey
Holidays as we know them today were an invention of the industrial revolution. Before the factory people did not think of leaving their village and home for a week to stay elsewhere, they had chores and animals that could not be left alone.
Holy days were single days of celebrations, and the entertainment would travel to the people in the form of a travelling fair or troupe of players, which would set up on the village green and entertain for a few coppers or some food and drink.
The factories, with their unhealthy atmosphere and long days of work provided no time for enjoyment, the only days of freedom allowed were Sundays, Christmas Day and Good Friday.
So how did holidays as we know them develop? Follow the learning journey to see how our great grandparents celebrated and saved for their leisure time.
Click on the steps below to explore.
Holidays learning journey Step 1: Holy Days and Wakes.
Originally "Wakes" was a religious festival held to celebrate the day of the patron saint of the local church, therefore to each congregation their saint's day was viewed as the most important day of the year. The name "Wake" comes from the practice of staying awake all night to pray, on the eve of a saint's day. The term "funeral wake" is from the same origin.
By the 1800s the wakes had become a time of merrymaking, with fairs and dancing, eating and drinking to excess.
For the factory workers in the early 1800s, these celebrations were out of reach, long hours and bad working conditions meant that wakes were just a childhood memory for most of them. It was not until the Factory Acts regulated the hours of work and number of days holiday allowed, that mill workers could enjoy the Wakes.
Click on the picture to see a list of cotton town wakes. Find out which northern towns still have wakes weeks. How do they celebrate?
What was the effect of the first Factory Act?