From Fuller's "The Holy State" (1642).

He goes to school to learn in jest and play in earnest. Now this Gentleman, now that Gentlewoman begges him a playday, and now the book must be thrown away, that he may see the buck hunted. He comes to school late, departs soon, and the whole yeare with him (like the fortnight when Christmas day falls on a tuesday) is all Holidayes and half-Holidayes.

From the context it seems that "half-holiday" means Sunday (Sunday + Monday + 12 days from Christmas to Epiphany = 2 weeks). But I could not find such meaning in OED. Might it occasionally understood like that? Or maybe it means forefeast?
  • Can't it be the same as the modern meaning: "a holiday of half a day only"?

    It's saying (with some exaggeration surely ) that for him all school days are holidays or half-day holidays.
    I agree with veli.

    See also this 1649 citation from the OED definition of "half-holiday" as A half-day, typically the latter half of the day, observed or taken as a holiday [...]:

    When the Passeover day it selfe was now come..some part of the people made it a holiday by ceasing from bodily labour all the day long, and others made it but halfe holiday, by leaving worke at noone.
    J. Lightfoot, Temple Service xii. 130
    I saw it, but it's not very clear.

    "Fortnight when Christmas day falls on a tuesday is all Holidayes and half-Holidayes".

    It's "and", not "or". Doesn't this mean that holidays and half-holidays are different days for someone rather than one day for different people? During this fortnight there are 2 holidays (Christmas and Epiphany) and 2 Sundays. Also there are some days closely preceding holidays. Which days might be called "half-holidays"?
    So are you thinking it's the other OED meaning,
    A minor religious holiday or feast day, esp. a holiday not given over to strict religious observance.


    Yes, it could be.
    Yes, something like that, if only Sunday could be called "half-holiday", which is my question actually.
    But could be really called like that?
    Well, presumbly the Sundays in that fortnight would be full religious holidays, and it would be some of the other days in the fortnight that would be days not given over to strict religious observance.
    I'm sorry, this isn't an area I know much about.
    From what I've been able to discover, it seems that in Fuller's day the holidays1,2 were

    The 12 days of Christmas were celebrated to varying degrees in various parts of the country and in various trades.

    1excluding the years of the Commonwealth.
    2 Sunday was always a holiday.
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    No, not really. They merely mentioned that the celebrations started the day before the main day.
    Looking again at the quote in post 1, Fuller seems to be saying that when Christmas Day falls on a Tuesday, there are 14 consecutive days which are either full holidays or half-holidays.

    But that doesn't fit with your table:(.
    By "is all Holidayes and half-Holidayes" I understood Fuller as using hyperbole -> "It seems/feels as if that fortnight is nothing but holidays and half-holidays" and "fortnight" is probably not used precisely, but as a general idea of "about 2 weeks" (c.f. 12 days of Christmas). I saw it as no more than his usual, effective, rhetoric.
    Well, the idea is clearly that when Christmas Day falls on a Tuesday, you get an extra couple of 'celebratory' days added to the traditional Twelve Days of Christmas - making 14 days (a fortnight) in total.

    So the main question I'm left with is which of the Twelve Days of Christmas were full-blown religious holidays. Wiki (Twelve Days of Christmas - Wikipedia) lists many of the feast days in the period, but I can't tell from that whether there were other days that were celebrated as "half-holidays". I'm sure there's someone here who know's more about saints' days than I do... :oops: