Monday, November 11, 2013

The Holidays Are Upon Us

It starts with Halloween, and just careeeeeens straight through until New Year's Day--holiday chaos. I have been seeing Christmas decorations in Costco since September. Gads, I miss when the holiday season started the day after Thanksgiving. By the time Thanksgiving comes, tis the season a month already. I love the stretch of days between August's first cool nights and New Year's Eve's champagne toast; not as one long mishmash holiday season, but letting them each come into their own. The wheel of the year turns quickly enough, thanks. No need to rush.
Holidays are holy days. How an author uses such days in their work has always intrigued me. I've rarely seen one that doesn't mimic our own seasonal holidays. The events in our world tend to revolve around that turning wheel of the year, whatever the culture. It doesn't matter if one is north of the equator or south, autumn holidays center around the harvest. Winter, the triumph of light over dark, or the long sleep. Spring, rebirth. Summer, abundance. The Christianization of many parts of the world kind of throws that off balance--Christmas is still celebrated on December 25th in Australia, even though it's the height of summer there--but let's not put that kettle of fish on the fire. Now, how about in fantasy fiction?

In Pawn of Prophecy, by David Eddings, the winter holiday was called Yule. It mimicked every winter holiday celebration I can think of from Christmas to Hannukah to the Feast of St. Lucia. In Guy Gavriel Kay's, Tigana, the annual Ember Days of Autumn feast celebrates the deicide of the God Adaon, and mimics the Dionysus myth.

There--I gave you two. Now, I am very curious to see what you come up with. Winter, spring, summer or fall--or none of the above! What seasonal festivals, national holidays, or any other event of that sort can you tell me about whether one you've read, or written yourself.

Terri-Lynne DeFino


Karin Rita Gastreich said...

Hi Terri!
I'm actually a having a hard time with this question, perhaps because I haven't paid enough attention to festivals and holidays in my reading. In Eolyn's world, I'd say my favorite holiday is Bel-Aethne, with Winter Solstice coming in a close second. Both, of course, are modeled after holidays in our world. And yes, you're right: It's all about the turning of the seasons, and how our mythology reflects those cyclic changes.

Fun post this week. Happy holidays to you! :)

Terri-Lynne said...

Karin--actually, yours were the first holidays I thought of, but I didn't want to steal your answers. :)

Mark has the High Summer Festival. I mention a celebration called The Darkday Balls in Beyond the Gate. I purposely made "religion" an unexplored part of life in my worlds. There's a lot of mention, but mostly through folklore. Adding holidays gave more depth to the world religions than I wanted.

I keep trying to think of more holidays--especially books that CENTER on a holiday--in fantasy fiction but come up short.

Anonymous said...

This worries me about the book I'm working on. It's set in a Catholic setting (mostly Barcelona) where there are c. 120 holy days per year. That meants about a 1/3 change that businesses will be closed for observances, and a good chance of processionals...

So I'm still trying to set the date there, mostly because I have to cross Good Friday and Easter during this time period.

Terri-Lynne said...

Ah, yes--the Catholics and their plethora of holy-days! You can't sneeze without it encompassing a Catholic holiday. I wonder which had more--Spain or Italy. I betcha Spain.

Anonymous said...

Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman's "The Fall of the Kings" has a wonderful Midwinter Festival, and associated traditions. If memory serves, a good deal of the plot centres around them.

Heroines of Fantasy said...

I did a panel with Ellen (fairy tales!) and one with Delia (my first ever panel--language in storytelling) and have always wanted to read something by the pair. I'll have to check that one out.

Midwinter seems to be synonymous with Solstice/Christmas/and their ilk. I've read several books that include Midwinter Festivals, even wrote them into an old series of books that shall never see the light of day! In Beyond the Gate, I mention "Darkday Ball" which is similar, even in temperate Vales Gate.
(Terri, on the wonky-gremlin-infested computer that won't let her post using her own username.)

Anonymous said...

'The Fall of the Kings' is a strange book. It's stayed with me in fragments rather than as a whole. It's definitely one to re-read, as it's a book of ideas to a greater extent, and it can be hard to absorb all of them in just the one reading. Hmm ... another to add to my pile.

Jacqueline Carey has a wonderful Midwinter Festival in her Kushiel books - the Longest Night. It offers a setting for pivotal scenes in a number of the books in the series. Who wouldn't love to receive an invitation to celebrate the Longest Night at Cereus House's Midwinter Masque, up at the Court of Night-Blooming Flowers?!

Unknown said...

I have one holiday in my WIP Shadyia: Beneath the Silver Rose which play an important part in the events of the story. I start chapter 27 talking about it:

Chapter 27

The Three Days of Samprina, the Celebration of Life and Love which marked the last days of autumn, was by far Shadyia’s favorite time of year. From the mountainous northern territories to the grassy plains and barren deserts of the Sada tribesmen, the carnivals of Samprina turned cities and villages into playgrounds.

The pious—ever suspicious of good cheer—spat their venom at Samprina, claiming it was created by the avaricious as an excuse to indulge, cavort and debauch, but their voices were crickets in a tempest of joy. The celebration differed slightly from place to place, but generally people followed the same tradition. On the morning of the first day, the head of a household or a courting gentleman bestowed gifts to those he cherished. Children and wives woke to presents piled on the breakfast table and maidens were given boxes wrapped in vibrant paper. In the evening, after sundown, those who had given gifts received one of their own, usually valuable items or acts of affection. The second day was reserved for fasting. After breakfast, no one—except the very young or the very old—was permitted to eat or drink anything until sunrise on the third day. When that dawn came, people would fall ravenous upon tables laden with food until their bellies nearly burst. The afternoon of the third day was dedicated to costume carnivals and parades through streets or along country roads, and masked balls late into the night.

Heroines of Fantasy said...

AT--That's a faboo holiday! I love it. Thanks for sharing it.