Your book may not take place on St. Patrick's Day, but what would your character do? Wear little shamrock deely-boppers? Dress in green head to toe? March in a parade with his bagpipe brigade? Swill a green beer? Sip a Guinness? Roll her eyes and dress in black? Or have absolutely no idea what St. Patrick's Day is?
Holidays and celebrations can reveal a lot about characters, and they are even more important in historical and fantasy fiction, showing the values, rhythm, and shape of society. While you may not be strongly aware of Lughnasa, Soyal, Carnival, or the Spring Festival, if you have your characters going about their daily business during an important time on the calendar, you're missing an opportunity. If you are building your own world, and you don't have a few holidays figured out, you haven't yet created a full society.
So ask yourself:
- What holidays and celebrations would take place during the events of the story?
- How are they celebrated?
- What is the historical and religious significance?
- What do these days mean to the people in society?
- What do these days mean to your characters?
- How might the events of the plot be tied to this event?
- What kind of personal conflict or societal strain might be attached to the holiday?
- What is the thematic, symbolic, or emotional meaning?
(Mine are bedecked in fuzzy green sweaters and green plastic beads, if you were wondering)