AskDefine | Define festival

Dictionary Definition



1 a day or period of time set aside for feasting and celebration
2 an organized series of acts and performances (usually in one place); "a drama festival" [syn: fete]

User Contributed Dictionary

see Festival




  1. an event or community gathering, usually staged by a local community, which centers on some theme, sometimes on some unique aspect of the community.
  2. in mythology, a set of celebrations in the honour of a god.

Related terms




  1. festival

Extensive Definition

A festival is an event, usually staged by a local community, which centers on some unique aspect of that community.
Among many religions, a feast or festival is a set of celebrations in honour of God or gods. A feast and a festival are historically interchangeable. However, the term "feast" has also entered common secular parlance as a synonym for any large or elaborate meal. When used as in the meaning of a festival, most often refers to a religious festival rather than a film or art festival.
In the Christian liturgical calendar there are two principal feasts, properly known as the Feast of the Nativity of our Lord (Christmas) and the Feast of the Resurrection, (Easter). In the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Anglican liturgical calendars there are a great number of lesser feasts throughout the year commemorating saints, sacred events, doctrines, etc.


The word fest derives from the Middle English, from Middle French word festivus, from the Latin word festivus. Festival was first recorded as a noun in 1589. Before it had been used as an adjective from the fourteenth century, meaning to celebrate a church holiday. The etymology of feast is very similar to that of festival. The word "feste" (one letter different from "fest") comes from Middle English, from Middle French, from the Latin word festa. Feast first came into usage as a noun circa 1200, and feast was used as a verb circa 1300.A festival is a special occasion of feasting or celebration, that is usually religious. ''There can be many different types of festival, like Halloween and Christmas.


Festivals, of many types, serve to meet specific needs, as well as to provide entertainment. These times of celebration offer a sense of belonging for religious, social, or geographical groups. Modern festivals that focus on cultural or ethnic topics seek to inform members of their traditions. In past times, festivals were times when the elderly shared stories and transferred certain knowledge to the next generation. Historic feasts often provided a means for unity among families and for people to find mates. Select anniversaries have annual festivals to commemorate previous significant occurrences.

Types of festivals

There are numerous types of festivals in the world. Though many have religious origins, others involve seasonal change or have some cultural significance. Also certain institutions celebrate their own festival (often called "fests") to mark some significant occasions in their history. These occasions could be the day these institutions were founded or any other event which they decide to commemorate periodically, usually annually.

Seasonal festivals

Seasonal festivals are determined by the solar and the lunar calendars and by the cycle of the seasons. The changing of the season was celebrated because of its effect on food supply. Ancient Egyptians would celebrate the seasonal inundation caused by the Nile River, a form of irrigation, which provided fertile land for crops. In the Alps, in autumn the return of the cattle from the mountain pastures to the stables in the valley is celebrated as Almabtrieb. A recognized winter festival, the Chinese New Year, is set by the lunar calendar, and celebrated from the day of the second new moon after the winter solstice.


Certain institutions decide to annually commemorate certain special events significant to their history. These institutions are usually educational institutes such as colleges and senior secondary, secondary, or high schools. Such festivals are usually called "fests". An example of such a fest is Saarang at IIT Madras, Chennai.

Ancient Egyptian festivals

Most Ancient Egyptian festivals were religious, but others were not such as one festival established by Ramesses III to celebrate his victory over the Libyans. When feasts occurred, they were either determined by lunar cycles or the Egyptian calendar. Festivals were large celebrations with plenty of food available. In one festival in the 12th century BC, 11,341 loaves of bread and 385 jars of beer were given to the public. The Sed festival celebrated the thirtieth year of a pharaohs rule and then every three (or four in one case) years after that. Iranian traditional festivals: Mehregan festival, Norooz or nuroz festival, qadir festival, Chahar shanbehesori festival . Islamic festivals : Hajj festival ( biggest Islamic festival), Ide fiter festival is another Islamic festival, Ide qadir festival is also an Irano-Islamic festival .

Chinese traditional festivals


festival in Swedish: Festival
festival in Arabic: مهرجان
festival in Bengali: উত্সব
festival in Danish: Festival
festival in German: Festival
festival in Esperanto: Festivalo
festival in Spanish: Festival
festival in French: Festival
festival in Indonesian: Festival
festival in Italian: Festival
festival in Japanese: フェスティバル
festival in Dutch: Festival
festival in Norwegian: Festival
festival in Norwegian Nynorsk: Festival
festival in Polish: Festiwal
festival in Portuguese: Festival
festival in Russian: Фестиваль
festival in Simple English: Festival
festival in Finnish: Festivaali
festival in Turkish: Festival

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Mardi Gras, Saturnalia, anniversary, banquet, birthday, blowout, carnival, celebration, commemoration, do, entertainment, fair, feast, festive occasion, festivity, fete, field day, fiesta, gala, gala affair, gala day, great doings, high jinks, holiday, holy day, jamboree, kermis, party, picnic, red-letter day, waygoose, wayzgoose
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