The Sabbath Series: What is a Yearly Sabbath?

A yearly Sabbath is a series of celebrations, festivities, holidays, and/or vacations spaced adequately throughout the year.

When you read the Old Testament, you hear about all these different festivities that the Israelites celebrated. Sure, they had their weekly Sabbath, but they also seemed to have these seasonal or yearly Sabbaths.

Then, you look at our American culture and you realize we have some of this, but our holidays look a lot different.

In this article, I want to look at this concept of yearly Sabbaths from three angles:

American Holidays

In the United States, we celebrate quite a few holidays. Or at least we say we do. But when it comes to actually honoring those holidays, everyone has their own flavor of doing it.

Every company chooses which ones they follow. In most companies, you’d be hard-pressed to find 10 paid holidays. In the company I work in, we have 10 exact.

If you’re in retail, hospitality, or the restaurant industry, you might only get two, if that.

Yet if you have a government job or work in education, you likely have close to 20 holidays.

If you’re a teacher or professor, you get a whole summer off! That’s usually 10+ weeks. And you get a winter break (2 weeks), a fall break (2-5 days), and a spring break (1 week). Holy moly!

Here’s a list of the most commonly honored holidays:

  • New Years Eve
  • New Years Day
  • Good Friday or Easter Monday
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Thanksgiving
  • Christmas
  • TOTAL = 10 days

*Some companies will give you the day off after Thanksgiving (aka Black Friday) or Christmas Eve.

Here’s the problem with all of those holidays… they’re all one-day holidays! So unless you take additional vacation days around those holidays, you’re usually not going to get more than three days off in a row.

I don’t know about you, but there are plenty of times when it would be nice to have more than three days off in a row!

Israelite Holidays

When you read about the Israelite’s history in the Old Testament, you come across a lot of festivals and holidays. Honestly, when I first read it, I thought, “All these Israelites do is party and celebrate!”

Here’s a list of the holidays from the Old Testament, along with the length of days:

  • Purim (2 days)
  • Feast of Unleavened Bread – Passover (8 days)
  • Pentecost – Shavuot (1 day)
  • Feast of Trumpets – Rosh Hashanah – ending with Yom Kippur (10 days)
  • Feast of Tabernacles – Sukkot (7 days)
  • Feast of Dedication – Hannukah (8 days)
  • TOTAL = 36 days

For 2022, there are even more Jewish holidays than this. Some celebrate wars won and independence, or some honor tragedies of the past, like the Holocaust.

But look at the difference between American holidays and Jewish holidays. Americans take 1 day at a time and only take 10 total. Our Jewish friends only have one holiday which is a single day. Most of them are a full week or more. And they have 36 total days off. That’s over a full month each year!

It would appear to me that the Israelites of old and the Jews of today understand the importance of taking time off.

How can we blend the best of both and create Yearly Sabbaths?

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: We, as humans, need rest. We need to cease from our labor. We are not cogs in a machine. We are not robots. Our batteries need to be recharged and changed every once in a while.

It’s very hard to get recharged in a weekend or three-day intervals. Hence, we need longer vacations on top of our yearly holidays. Some people do great at this and take at least two big vacations (yearly Sabbaths) per year. Maybe they travel, maybe they don’t. But they take two full weeks off, and they enjoy it.

Other people do horrible at this and hardly take any time off. They might even work on the company holidays because they feel behind or are offered double time or whatever. In two of my jobs, I totally fell for this trap. I’d work a holiday to try to get ahead, even though I was in a salaried position. Or, in the other job, I’d work a holiday for double time because I thought we needed the money more than I needed the rest.


Working on holidays is a bad idea. Not taking time off is a bad idea. Burnout is real. I’ve experienced it (and written about it in another Sabbath Series post).

So here’s what I propose we do:

  • We take at least two large vacations per year. Take a full week off. Don’t work for 7-10 days straight, so you get 14-20 days off in those two big vacations.
  • We take two smaller vacations per year. At least 4 days off in a row, if not more. Don’t work for 4-6 days straight, so you get 8-12 days off in those two smaller vacations.

If travel is refreshing for you, travel. If staying home is refreshing for you, stay home. But don’t work! Don’t do a single bit of it!

Enjoy your rest!

Take yearly Sabbaths!

Next Step

Be sure to check out the rest of The Sabbath Series, as it develops.

If you’re looking for a free resource to help you be more successful in all areas of life, check out this page.

Published by omerdylanredden

I write.

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