Sunday, December 11, 2011

Holidays in Fantasy

Twinkling fairy-lights, a crackling fire, the whisper of snowflakes falling from the sky…this season feels like stepping into fairyland. There’s a wintery chill in the air and a mug of hot cocoa in my hand. It’s the time to dream, to imagine, to relax, to write, and to curl up with a good book.

But before you go snuggle up with that book, there are a few things to ponder during this season in particular.

First, let’s begin with Christ. During the holiday—or Holy Day—of Christmas, we want to remember the reason for celebration: the birth of Christ, the One who gives us passion to write. John 1 tells us a beautiful story of Christ’s coming.
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
How truly wonderful it is to step back and reflect on Christ, our savior and the true “reason for the season.”

There’s another aspect of the holidays, too, that fantasy writers can use to extend the depth of our stories. We often compose a storyworld complete with languages and cultures. But what about holidays? Every culture on earth has days when it stops to rest and celebrate—and every fantasy culture should have holidays, too.
Here’s a few things to think about when creating holidays for your fantasy cultures:
  • What values does this holiday celebrate? In Japan, the codomo-no-hi festival (children’s day) honors the growth of boys from children into powerful young men who are strong enough to swim upstream in the currents of life. Our own Thanksgiving Day in the Unites States helps us to think back over our life and be thankful for the blessings God’s given us. What values in your culture might you develop into a holiday?
  • History: Often, celebrations are tied to important events in the history of the nation. Countries all over the world celebrate some form of Independence Day. Other important historical events—battles, establishment of cities, and more—can all prompt holidays. What events in your fantasy nations could spark a day of celebration?

So now, with all that said, have a glorious, happy, writing-filled holiday!


  1. Hi,
    I was just wondering if you took those pictures at the end of the post. If you did, what camera/lens did you use?
    Sunny Smith

  2. Thanks so much for your comment on my blog! Your blog looks wonderful and extremely helpful to fantasy writers. I can't wait to check it out!


  3. Sunny--I love photography and I own a 55-250 mm lens (yes, it's my precious!), but sadly I didn't take those pictures. However, from the look of them, an 18-55 mm lens with a large aperture (5.6 or lower, especially in the 2.0 range) would probably produce the same effect.

    Jane--you're welcome for the comment, and thanks to you too! I certainly hope that my blog is helpful :) . I know it helps me to gather my thoughts and ideas into coherent posts! Thanks so much for the comment!

  4. Great suggestions.

    My first novel was a YA fantasy very loosely based on Finnish mythology. The myths took place before Christianity, but they did celebrate winter solstice.

  5. How interesting! I've always thought that winter/summer solstices were some of the most interesting times of the year. Astronomy & natural phenomenons are great places to look for more holiday and celebratory ideas.

    Thanks for the comment!

  6. I suppose it's true that great minds think alike. I'm discussing holidays in fantasy right now also and I have a similar post scheduled for Wednesday. It's that time of year. :)

    I love how you described the season at the beginning of your post, and the passage from John is one of my favorites.

  7. Thanks for your comment, Sarah! One of my family's catchphrases is, "great minds think alike...but not all minds that think alike are great." (This came from a phase when we were exploring logic and venn diagrams, as it happens.) Anyhow, from a look at your blog, your mind certainly ranks on the great side--not so sure about mine, though :)

    I'll be on the lookout for that post on your blog. I've enjoyed your thoughtful posts. And thanks again for the comment and compliments!


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