Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Reality, Meet Fiction: Holidays

It's been a while since we've had a world-building article. I hope this provides you with some good food for thought with regard to your story. 


At least in the U.S., November and December  are considered to be the holiday season. Christmas tends to dominate the season, but New Year's and Thanksgiving are widely celebrated and observed as well. 

Holidays are celebrated for various reasons, including religion (Christmas, Easter, Hanukkah), memorial reasons (Patriot's Day, Memorial Day, Veteran's Day), or calendar changes (The New Year). Celebrations may consist of meals, reflection, music, time with family, services, or other observances.


What holidays do your characters celebrate? Why? Are there disagreements about what holidays should be celebrated (differences in religion, for example)?  Or are there disagreements about how holidays should be celebrated (going to church on Christmas morning vs. spending time with family)? Does everyone agree on what date the holiday should be celebrated? Is it expected that people will greet people a certain way during the holiday season (Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays; "He is Risen" on Easter)?

How are the holidays observed? Is there a specific meal that should be eaten? (For example, eating pork for good luck on New Year's Day or observing the Passover supper). Are there specific decorations? How about music? Activities? How do activities vary by age group? Gender? What roles do various people play? Does the youngest or oldest child have a particular part to play?

What attitude should be maintained on holidays? Is it reflective, such as for Memorial Day, or jovial, as for Christmas? 

How long does the holiday last? Is there a preparatory period before the holiday (Lent prior to Easter)? If so, does it have a different "feel" than the actual holiday? How do preparations contribute to the actual holiday?

Did you invent any holidays for your books?

If you haven't already, please take a moment to fill out the survey in the right-hand column. Thanks in advance!


  1. Hm, this is interesting. I've never really considered this, but it is a good idea. Great post!

    1. Thanks! Stephen R. Lawhead's "Pendragon Cycle" has some good examples of incorporating holidays into a story.

      Thanks for the comment!


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