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Holidays and Calendars

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Mindfire, Jan 31, 2013.

  1. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

    Two things:

    First, in the interest of fleshing out my world, I'm making some special holidays for the different cultures. Important events and figures from their myths and legends make obvious holidays, as do days devoted to their gods or things they consider important, like family members for example. But one of my nations, Elyssia, is a rigidly secular society. Any form of public worship has long been stamped out. I'm having trouble coming up with non-religious holidays for them. I never really thought about how much holidays are tied to religion until now.

    Holidays I've got for Elyssia so far include:

    Independence Day- a day commemorating their separation from Beorgia to become a sovereign nation. It is marked by patriotic displays, military parades, public appearances by the nobility, presentations of art celebrating Elyssia's national accomplishments, and the burning of effigies representing foreign nations in vibrant multicolored fire. Probably a mid-spring holiday.

    Saturnalia- a day of feasting and revelry similar to the old Roman tradition. Slaves are temporarily released and given the same rights as free citizens and a generous portion of the funds collected through taxes are returned to the people through public festivities and small stimulus packages household stipends. Probably an autumn holiday rather than a winter one for them, associated with the harvest.​

    Beyond those two, I'm not sure what other holidays to give them. If it helps, their culture is big into nationalism and celebrating human (read, "Elyssian") accomplishment. They consider themselves and their way of life to be more enlightened and civilized than the surrounding nations.

    Second, what's the general opinion on inventing your own calendar, as in names for months and days of the week? Or even using a lunar vs. a solar calendar? Does it add to immersion/depth or is it just distracting and unnecessary?
  2. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

    Since the very word "holiday" comes from "holy day", I don't think you have too many non-religious options there. Your idea of celebrating great leaders and the like is good, since we do a lot of that in the real world. But even some of the more secular holidays we celebrate have deep religious roots, mainly in paganism. Halloween comes from Samhain, the ancient Celtic festival that marked both the end of the harvest and the new year, named for a god of the dead; May Day is Beltaine, the first day of summer by the Celtic calendar. Some consider Easter (in the chocolate and bunnies sense, mostly, but some harp on the Jesus aspect too) to be a corruption of Eostre, a goddess of spring, also known as Ostara; the holiday associated with her is the spring equinox.
    Mindfire likes this.
  3. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

    From the sounds of it, your nation is still an agrarian society - meaning things like planting and harvest would be extremely important. Hence, spring and fall festivals: the former an excuse to party before the work of planting the fields begins, and the later an excuse to party once the crops are in. Midsummers day (summer solistice) would be another biggie.

    If I remember right, the actual Satunalia was the winter solistice - December 21st.

    You could also steal a page from the US government (and presumably others) : have certain days arbitrarily declared holidays in recognition of past figures (like Martin Luther King Day and Presidents Day).
    Mindfire likes this.
  4. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

    For nationalism, they might capture other milestones besides independence-- military victories are the classic choice, possibly varied by a memorial to some great disaster and its victims.

    For human accomplishment, there's the classic harvest festival (and the Carnival, the point in late winter when you have to eat the rest of your stored meat), and maybe any number of events honoring different trades and the arts. Maybe they have only so many holidays that everyone celebrates, plus a system of a year-round fair that honors different trades and such at different times. (Then again, there's a theory that most Earth cultures have something like a Sabbath to give them about 1 in 7 days to rest, or else are like China that has a similar total number of days in yearly holidays. Just as ways to pace their workload.)
    Mindfire likes this.
  5. SeverinR

    SeverinR Vala

    Presidents day, heroic persons day, and celebrations of harvest, planting, and the dead. Day for dead-Memorial day, Veterans day, Day of the Dead.
    Maybe festivals for art;
    Music festival, painting festivals,
    I believe mid winter celebration is common, even if not related to Christmas, remember winter is depressing even more when your scraping by through long winters, there needs to be a gathering of friends. Winter and summer Solstice I think are common non-religious holidays.

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