Tag Archives: Holidays

Holiday Reflections

Just got back from a whirlwind trip to Colorado and back for Christmas. A major part of the trip was to carry all my daughter’s stuff up there from Arkansas since she has just moved into an apartment. That meant hauling my trailer, which keeps my max highway speed somewhere around 65mph, or less. We left Saturday morning, got there about 2am Sunday morning after dealing with blizzard conditions for the last four or five hours (guessing why I left Colorado?) and almost being the victim of a spinout in front of us on I-70. Then after spending Christmas eve unpacking and helping my daughter set up her apartment, we spent most of Christmas day doing Christmas stuff. Then we headed back around 6pm, taking two days to get back since I have to get to work tomorrow morning and didn’t want to deal with coming home at 2am and getting up at 6am to go to work.


Image result for Frodo it's over

Now, having said all that, I do have some thoughts about the holiday season in general, and specifically as a writer.

I find it difficult to write during holidays, especially Thanksgiving and Christmas. There are so many demands on a person’s time, between shopping, getting together with friends or family, cooking, driving from one place to another and back… I generally consider Thanksgiving through New Years as “down time” and any writing I can get done is a bonus.

I figure there’s more than enough stress in the holiday season without adding writing 2,000 words a day to the list. I know there are many writers who have no problem with that. I don’t appear to be one of them. At least not this year.

If other writers are struggling with the same thing, my advice would be to try to avoid the stress of the additional demands of self-imposed deadlines on projects that are not committed, especially not financially committed. Just as business folk are reminded frequently that nobody ever wished they spent more time at the office when on their death bed, even writers can look back and wish they had spent more time with their families. Especially on the holidays.

Fictional Holidays

Christmas tree
Christmas Tree

With the holiday season passing us, I think it is a good time to look around us and figure out how we can put this in a fiction world. Looking at our own holidays is a great way to help world-build and create believable celebrations in your own world. A well designed world that includes holidays may also provide a look into the history and cultures that exist in the world.

Looking at Christmas, we can see different elements coming from different cultures with different priorities, the two that jump to the front being religion and harvest. Religion has been with us since the first cognizant person witnessed the first lightning storm or felt his first earthquake. To their primitive culture, such acts could only be accomplished via a supreme being. It’s not surprising then that many of the holidays surround the worship or appeasement of a god. Even the name holidays comes from Holy Days.

The date is centered around the Winter Solstace, or December 21st. The Norse celebrated Yule, which focused on the return of the sun. If you watched the sun in the sky, each day it would drop lower and lower as the days got shorter. On solstice, the sun would stop its movement and start rising as the days got longer. To celebrate, they would get large logs and light them on fire and feast until the flames went out. The Norse believed that each spark from these Yule logs, which could burn for around 12 days, symbolized a new life that would be born in the forthcoming year.

The Romans celebrated Saturnalia in honor of Saturn, the god of Agriculture. Since farming and agriculture paused for the passing of winter, it provided time for celebration and feasts. Saturnalia also centered on the rebirth of the sun and the hopes of a good new year. One big part of the celebration was the day of Gift-giving on December 23rd. On this day, people gathered to give gifts to friends, family, and patrons.

Finally, with the coming of Christianity, many of these celebrations were converted in an effort to bring more people into the religion. As society progressed and became industrialized, the rebirth of the sun and the worry about growing crops for the next year subsided. Despite this, the history and concerns of our people in the past is still evident in how we celebrate now.

Looking back at fiction, you can put these same ideas into your holidays. If the people of your world never had to worry about food or the loss of the sun, then having them celebrate a Christmas like celebration wouldn’t make sense. Also, in a world where Gods are not only worshiped but actively walk and affect the lives of their followers, certain requirements may be demanded upon them. Think of how these requirements would change through the years. Perhaps a past god required one thing and was replaced with the current god who actively protested the celebrations. How would this effect the world and those living in it?

Even if you don’t tell the world of all the history, it can help give ideas and really give color to the world. If nothing else, it will give you, the author, a deeper understanding of your world and the people who live there. And that can only help improve a novel.