As I discussed Monday, most likely your story will dictate the degree to which you develop holidays for your world. Yet once you reach the point where you must create some festivities for your fantasy lands, it’s worth considering the source of the various holidays celebrated in our world, in order to infuse these fictitious events with a sense of realism. Here are a few:
- Religious beliefs. The word holiday springs from the Old English haligdæg meaning “holy day or Sabbath.” When considering holidays for your fantasy world, it’s important to remember that many of the holidays we recognize spring from religious practices–not only the ones we observe now, like Christmas or Easter, but more antiquated celebrations like Michaelmas. Much can be told of the nature of a religion through the holidays they celebrate, so this can be useful for revealing the underlying belief systems of your world as well as providing a cause for celebration.
- Significant events and people. For countless years, cultures have celebrated important events in their history or noteworthy people by holding holidays in their honor. In the United States, Memorial Day and Martin Luther King Day would be a good examples, but these sorts of remembrances have occurred through much of history.
- Changes in the natural world. Seasonal changes and milestones, solar and lunar cycles, and similar events have sparked feasts and celebrations for thousands of years. The Chinese Mid-Autumn festival, observed close to the autumnal equinox has a host of traditions accompanying it including matchmaking, the lighting of lanterns, the consumption of traditional foods, and so forth. Then of course, we have the celebration of Midsummer’s eve, which coincided with the summer solstice, or the medieval feast of Lammas, which celebrated the wheat harvest. This is a perfect opportunity to highlight some of the unique ways your world functions and reveal tidbits about seasons, calendars, and so forth.
- Meaningful relationships. These holidays celebrate significant relationships in our lives. Though it didn’t originate as such, in the Middle Ages, St. Valentine’s Day became a celebration of romantic love and relationships. And of course we now celebrate Father’s Day and Mother’s Day to honor our parents. For a fantasy world, celebrations sparked by relational bonds may give insight on what relationships are viewed as important–and even into family ties and structures.
Have you drawn from any of these sources when creating holidays for your fantasy world? Do you have any helpful tips to share?