One of the things I love about world-building is the chance to create entirely new holidays. I personally believe that you can never have enough holidays, so the chance to invent a few of my own is really too much to resist.
As with any world-building, holidays need to fit into the belief structure of the place and people you’ve created. I’ve found that it helps a lot to read about holidays, feasts, and celebrations world-wide and throughout history in order to get a feel for the kinds of things that people commemorate with a special time set apart.
If you’re writing a militaristic culture, it’s likely that they will commemorate great battles, both wins and losses. The losses are likely to be solemn occasions, while the victory remembrances may include feasting, storytelling, gift-giving, dances and music. It may be a time when mayhem is permitted and even tacitly encouraged. Or it could be the time when young warriors are presented for initiation.
In an agricultural culture, holidays are likely to follow the seasonal cycle of planting and harvest. There will be times when people are too busy to celebrate, and other times when it’s possible to take a day to enjoy the harvest. Foods will be what are seasonally available. Spring will focus on new life, and may be the time for handfastings. Fall is a time for counting stock and preparing for the cold dark winter.
Holidays play a big role in all of my series. In my Chronicles of the Necromancer series. Not only do they provide a window into the cultures of the different kingdoms in how they are celebrated, but the characters’ attitudes toward the holidays also provide an insight into who they are and what they have experienced. In the Ascendant Kingdoms series, even exiles in a harsh arctic colony find a way to make a celebration out of the beginning and end of the “white nights”. And of course in my Deadly Curiosities Adventures, real-world Charleston, SC knows how to celebrate in a big way!
Holidays are also a great way to provide a view of the economy of your fictional world. Are special goods required for a celebration? How far in debt will people go to acquire them? What trade is necessary to supply them? Can they be obtained illegally? How do celebrations differ between the rich and the poor? Slave and free? People of different races or kingdoms?
Make sure to study folklore and world customs to avoid just copying the holidays you might be most familiar with. Throughout history, people have found a rich variety of ways to honor their deities, so you’ve got a lot of inspiration to pull from beyond our modern culture.
Holidays are a lot of fun to write. Invent a good one, and you may be able to make it an annual celebration with your readers. Adding holidays to your writing creates a whole new layer of believability and texture to your world. Try it and see!
Just in time for the holidays–some bright shiny new books, giveaways and more!
Mocha Memoirs Press Holiday Blog tour is live! This is one of the holiday-themed posts–follow them all for clues on how to enter to win cool stuff! Click on the graphic to find out more about the prizes, and click on the frog in the box to find all the other great blog posts!!
Vendetta, the new Deadly Curiosities novel, launches Dec. 29! You can pre-order online–just in time for Christmas, and some great New Years’ reading.
Larry and I have a new Storm and Fury Adventure story (set in the world of our Iron & Blood steampunk series) in the new corset-themed anthology Cinched: Imagination Unbound. It’s a hot bunch of stories guaranteed to warm up your winter nights.
Superhero (and villain) fans, rejoice! The Side of Good/The Side of Evil is now available–and it includes our Storm & Fury Adventure Ghost Wolf, with a steampunk superhero, set in our Iron & Blood world!
The Weird Wild West anthology is coming soon–with another of our Storm & Fury steampunk tales, Ruin Creek (which got a special shout-out from two reviewers!)
Blaine McFadden fans–lots of good stuff new for you! No Reprieve is a brand new story set during Blaine’s time as a prisoner in Velant–coming on ebook Dec. 15 from Orbit Short Fiction.
Pre-order The Shadowed Path, the new Jonmarc Vahanian collection in print or ebook, perfect for the Chronicles of the Necromancer lover on your list!
Fatal Invitation was the Thanksgiving Deadly Curiosities Adventure for November, and watch for a spookalicious Christmas story coming in December!
Still time to get in on the big Holiday Book Giveaway! The more you enter, the more chances to win!