Thursday, November 26, 2009

What Does Your Character Celebrate? - Nov. 26, '09

What Does Your Character Celebrate?
For Americans, this is Thanksgiving Day, and I am thankful to have someone as my soul mate, a place that is our home, and the opportunity to do many things that I love with her. The turkey and chicken thighs marinated in spices, fresh squeezed orange juice, and honey, the dressing er, dressing-ated. Yes, I made that word up, and it came out all right for instead of putting in leftover breadcrumbs from an unlabeled container I ended up dropping in 1/2 cup of couscous. Added crushed cashews, chopped cooked onions, 2 eggs, cooked and crumbled lamb kebab instead of pork sausage for a less spicy taste, some chicken broth, and it actually came out well. Some kitchen accidents are edible.

I do put partial blame on the heavy duty antibiotics and cold meds I'm taking for bronchitis but the lesson too--label containers!

Holidays range from the personal to global, encompassing the silly, the profane and the sacred. We have birthdays, christenings, name-days, confirmation, and coming-of-age. There are anniversaries of meetings, engagements, weddings and vow renewals, holidays of love, war commemorations, jubilees for royalty, presidents' birthdays, days for remembering the dead individually and en masse, other occasions recall disasters and mass tragedies.

We celebrate Mother's and Father's Day, (my folks, to my question of why there isn't a children's day, said that every day is children's day), We've added Grandparent's Day, Earth Day, Secretaries' Day, and the quaint Groundhog's Day is never celebrated by the animal kingdom, though the Punxsutawney Phil groundhog of the day is given treats.

This latter holiday is actually quite old and is related to Imbolc or Brigid's Day on February 2nd when the peasants hoped winter was losing its grip. By this time food storage supplies are low, hunting is slim, and the ground still too hard to plant. If a groundhog or badger (European origin) can make it through the frozen earth--then soon it will be pliable enough for mattock and spade.

The oldest celebrations center around the seasons and the elements, for without water and food, we cannot exist. In pagan traditions the solstices and equinoxes honor the longest day on June 21st, and the longest night on December 21st. May 21st and September 21 have equal amount of day to night but one slips into a greater luminance, while the other's hours of light decline. The moon phases of new and full, waxing and waning also mark time.

What do our characters celebrate?

I've a QuarterMoon festival celebration in one book and two on a royal birthdays. The former is a license for excesses that will bring in revelers who will spend money and leave poorer though longing for next year's celebration. Some will bear Quartermoon babies in nine months, the pickpockets and sharpers will live high off their ill-gotten gains, and the slaves must work harder and quieter cleaning up and avoiding their masters and mistresses with massive hangovers.

On the latter, one princess on her balcony watches a parade in her honor. Despite the occasion celebrating her maturity, there's also the reminder of those gone before as youths and maidens pass below wearing masques of the gods, demons, and her predecessors. So too she knows her mother, died near her age, giving her life.

Another birthday for triplets is skewed, for only one is there, and the realm is turned on end by the visit from an otherworldly guest.

Would your character enjoy or hate the holiday? Would s/he celebrate alone or with someone? Is there feasting, fasting, prayers, or sacrifices? Is there a special place, a special costume, setting, ritual bathing or other custom that must be followed before the day? What makes the day so important for your character?

1 comment:

K.Hinny said...

Hi Heron! It's Hinny from the Block... I know it's been a while, but... I really enjoyed this post, it was filled with warm sentiments and interesting ideas.

Just getting to know the smaller things about one's characters will help the writer bring the personality to life even more and help create a bond with the reader.

I enjoyed this very much!
Happy writing!