In the geologic timescale, the Holocene is the epoch that began approximately 10,000-12,000 years ago following the previous epoch of the Pleistocene, and continues to this day. Its beginning was marked by the melting of the most recent ice age along with the Neolithic Revolution, the rise of modern human settlement and agriculture. Epochs tend to span anywhere from a few million years to tens of millions of years, so the Holocene is an extremely young epoch. An alternate name scientists are considering for this epoch is the Anthropocene, since in such a short time, humans have had such a drastic impact on Earth. Also, in the distant future, the name "Holocene" will no longer be appropriate, if one takes into account the meaning of the word. :-)
Etymology: 1895-1900 Greek, from the words holos (whole or entire) and kainos (new). So the word essentially means "entirely recent." That won't work in a few million years, eh?
This is a cute, simplified kid's version of the geologic time scale, but it gets the point across! ^_^ (This stuff is one of my favorite things in the world!!!!)