What kind of world doesn’t have holidays? Even dictators allow their people to have holidays (though they probably throw in a few that celebrate the dictator). To make your world look like time is passing, and to inject some realism into your campaigns, you should consider adding holidays to your settings and campaigns.
Remember, people are always looking for a reason to celebrate and have fun. Many are also looking for a reason to drink, but that doesn’t have to necessarily be the case in your stuff 🙂
One of the great things about the Wheel of Time series is Robert Jordan’s consistent use of holidays. He had all sorts of holidays too; typical, feast-y ones, dress-up ones, and even dress-down ones (everyone got naked, danced in the street, and might end up kissing or going to bed with anyone, even those outside your ‘social class’). Some were only celebrated in one city, some were only in one country, and others were universal.
It couldn’t hurt to follow Robert Jordan’s example a little.
Types of Holidays
There are many types of holidays. Some are celebrations, while others are somber reminders, some have even lost their meaning, but still carry on due to tradition. You might even mix a couple together: an Independence Day-type holiday could be a celebration for winning independence, but it could also have a time of silent reflection, remembering those who died to win that freedom.
How to Celebrate
There are nearly an infinite number of ways a holiday could be celebrated; The people may be required to wear masks, or to wear their Sunday best, or nothing at all. It could be something done almost exclusively in family groups, or it could be something the whole community does together.
You could have a carnival or circus show up in town, or you could launch fireworks. There could be parades or feasts or special decorations that must be put up. Seriously, there’s so much you can do with holidays.
Holidays That Aren’t Holidays
This is a group of events that technically aren’t considered holidays, but could be, if you really thought about it. These include things like the Super Bowl or the Hunger Games. They’re annual events that a huge number of people get involved in.
Another thing that could be included are town festivals (such as a Cranberry Festival), which are more of a tourism thing than an actual holiday, but I included them for the sake of being thorough.
The scheduling of holidays is rather ambiguous. Some fall on certain cosmic events, such as full moons, some on a specific day of a specific month, and others fall on a certain day of the week of a slightly ambiguous week, such as Thanksgiving falling on the fourth Thursday of November.
Most of the time, you needn’t really worry about when your settings’ holidays will take place, since you can just throw them in whenever, but if you’re designing a setting to be published, it doesn’t hurt to get them figured out.
Here is a list of example holidays from the real world (specifically in the US) that can give you some idea of the diversity that holidays already present:
- Memorial Day
- Independence Day
- Super Bowl
- Dr Martin Luther King Jr Day
- April fools day
- Valentine’s day
- Labor Day
- New Year
New to The Little Things…?
To find out more about this series of articles, or to find more, head over to the series’ home page.