Today is Easter!  I’m guessing that you noticed, and perhaps you are celebrating in one or more of the myriad ways possible.  I think a holiday like this is a great time to think about how to use holidays in writing.

Holidays are generally linked to a few specific concepts.  Many are religious, which you can tell by the etymology of the word holiday.  (Just look at it – it clearly started life as Holy Day.)  Some commemorate past events, like birthdays and battles.  There are also the holidays that mark specific current events, like the end of harvest or the first day of spring, although these are less common in our modern lives.

If you write fantasy, like I do, you have a couple of options.  It’s your world, after all.  You can be fairly true to medieval European traditions and use major Christian holidays.  Keep in mind that if you have the holidays, you need to have the religion and attendant trappings as part of your society, and vice versa.   The same thing goes with a world based on any other real culture, and their affiliated religious practices and holidays.  If you choose to deviate from the European model (or any other actual culture) for your world, you can develop your own holidays.  Just remember that some things, like harvest, are significant to any agriculture society, so using those is a good place to start.

Holidays aren’t necessary to a story, so don’t feel like you have to use them.  Most of our days are not holidays, and the same goes for the characters in a book or movie.  A holiday does give people a change, something out of their routine, which may be useful in helping to set up events in a tale.  Just remember that it’s your world, so you don’t have to use the same holidays you celebrate in your life.


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