Everyone looks forward to holiday celebrations. Holidays such as Christmas, New Years Eve (and Thanksgiving if you're from America)...

     Everyone looks forward to holiday celebrations. Holidays such as Christmas, New Years Eve (and Thanksgiving if you're from America) mean spending time with family, relaxation, and fun activities. In books I love it when characters take part in celebrations true to their world. It really captures me in the story, until I am dancing alongside them and tasting their rich food.

     If you're writing a fictional celebration, or in the process of creating one, here are some elements that can really bring it to life.

1) Reason for the celebration

     Many countries on Earth have celebrations that stem from religious events, or past days where something was achieved (like an Independence Day). Celebrations are often created to remember this day or event. I'll use a celebration from Thailand as my example, since I've experienced it multiple times. 

     Loy Krathong takes place on the full moon night of the twelth lunar month. The ritual of floating krathongs (see picture below) down the river is the core of the celebration, and is often done to pay respects to the Goddess of Water and apologize for river pollution. Seeing the krathongs float away also represents washing away past sins and misfortunes.

2) Activities 

     At Christmas people give presents, spend time with family, and if you're Christian probably go to a church service. Similarly, on Thanksgiving I've heard from American friends that they eat a lot of food. So when creating a fictional celebration think about what your characters will be doing. Will they be dancing? Praying? Giving gifts, eating, hanging with family? Attending public places for festivities?

     Going back to Loy Krathong, apart from sailing krathongs, people let off floating lanterns (Thais did it before Tangled, I promise), go to float parades, compete in beauty contests, visit temples, and set off fireworks.

3) Food 

     Holidays are often associated with certain foods, but is also depends on which culture you are in. In Australia at Christmas lamb with mint sauce or some kind of ham is likely served, while in America the stereotypical type of meat is turkey. 

     I, for one, love to read about food in fictional worlds. So what foods are associated with and have to be eaten in the celebration? Are there any special drinks or candy?

I love eating lamb
4) Clothes 

     Sometimes certain clothing is demanded to be worn during certain celebrations. In Thailand during Loy Krathong you might see people wearing traditional clothing on floats or milling around. In your fictional world, does everyone need to wear a certain colour? Do people dress up to go out? Do they tattoo their skin or put on henna?

     Play around with all four elements, and you can come up with something that is true to your world-building and unique!

What's your favourite holiday/celebration in your country? Do you enjoy creating fictional cultures and world-building? (I do!)

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  1. This is a great list! I'm trying to do worldbuilding for my next novel right now (and failing lol) but these are definitely some ood things to think about. I love the fictional celebration that Maggie Steifvater creates in The Scoorpio races. I love Diwali because it's so pretty. and Independence day because food and pretty Indian clothes

    1. Thanks Shanti! World-building can be very tricky, especially when you're trying to think of something no one else has done before. The celebration in the Scorpio Races is amazing (and those November cakes sound yum). I haven't experienced Diwali but it looks like a beautiful festival. Thanks so much for commenting! :D

  2. Nice post. My favorite holidays are Christmas and Easter.

    1. Thanks Rachel! I also love Christmas and Easter; they're great holidays. Thank you for commenting! XD

  3. Yessss, I love world building! I'm planning on having a huge festival in my newest WIP, so this is great help :)

    Ellie | On the Other Side of Reality

    1. Awesome, I'm so glad this helped you. World-building is amazingly fun. Good luck with the festival, and thanks so much for commenting, Ellie! :)

  4. I love world building in my mind. My best celebration in a book would be the feasts in Harry potter.

    1. I love world-building too! I have so much fun creating cultures. That's a great example; feasts (and all the yummy food) are cool to read about. Thanks for dropping by, Resh! XD