Friday, December 30, 2011

The New Year

Happy New Year, everyone. It's about that time. In keeping with the holiday, I decided I'd look it up and see what I could find. I knew the beginning of a new year was, and in some places, is celebrated on different days in different places around the world. What I found out was really rather amazing. Thanks to Christianity, The day of our new year was decided by the circumcision of Christ. I didn't know that. Such occurrences can be put to use in your writing as well, whether Christ is included in your story or not, or whether the event is a circumcision or some other rite such as a rite of manhood. I use puberty as a major event in a life to trigger some occurrence. Since I have quite a bit of magic in my writing, I picked puberty as the time in a young person's life for it to show up; so many things change at puberty. Whether you pick that time of life or not is up to you; your story is yours.

Throughout the ages, the most popular time for the new year revolved around the spring equinox in March, either right on the moment of equal day and night, or at some point shortly thereafter. I'm sure the logic was that being the beginning of the planting season - new life and all that it entailed.

Many middle eastern cultures celebrated the new year as late as April and some even in June. I'm lumping these cultures together so if I screwed something up, please forgive me.

With the influx of Christianity, the popularity shifted to January and it was some time before it finally settled on what it is today.

My point is, it's important to do your research when including holidays, just as it's important to include the logic behind them, even if it's an unconscious logic. Rituals and customs are different in different countries, and they could be no other way.

If you are writing about another world, the same truths must hold there too. Never assume that an entire world will have the very same culture and beliefs, though they may have the same laws. There will always be different religions, different views, and different holidays and customs. This entire world might recognize Christmas but that doesn't mean that they observe it. Just as the new year around the world is accepted as January first, once upon a time, and for completely logical reasons, it was something else.

Never be afraid to add such variety into your stories, just make sure you keep it straight. If you need an outline or notes to do that, by all means keep them. Who knows, they might provide the fodder for a sequel.

Happy Writing


Jacqui said...

So true. It's awful to have your character traipsing through some foreign nation only to miss the fact that a major holiday was taking place.

There goes credibility.

Anna L. Walls said...

Or - haha - it could be just the thing to spark SO much trouble. Some people do wear blinders when it comes to holidays or customs in other countries (or on other worlds), expecting everyone to be like them and cater to their beliefs.

Kriti said...

Wow did not know New Years (31st Dec) had anything to do with Christ... Thanks for the education Anna!

Anna L. Walls said...

It's amazing what you'll find if you Google some random piece of information. I certainly learned something too.
Thanks for stopping by, Kriti.

Saira Mokhtari said...

Actually, the Catholic Church's new year begins with the first day of Advent - four Sundays before the first day of Christmas. It's when we start readying ourselves for the coming of the Lord. Just thought I'd throw that out there since most of history in Europe involves the Catholic Church. :)

(P.S. Anyone think it's strange that my security word is Stalin?)

Anna L. Walls said...

Really? I didn't notice anything about the Catholic church in the post I found. Interesting. Why was that day picked, do you know?

Saira Mokhtari said...

Not sure, but I'll gladly look it up and get back to you. I'm Catholic and I do this for fun. XD

Oh and has a search bar that can be changed to Catholic search if you'd like to look yourself. :)

Saira Mokhtari said...
This give some explanation. :)

Anna L. Walls said...

Thanks so much for the link, Saira. It just goes to show you how important research is even if the information is only background noise to your tale. Getting some of the tiniest details wrong can really throw off a reader who happens to be in the know.

Saira Mokhtari said...

Yes. I've noticed that with a few of the books I read. Sometimes they're the things that annoy me the most.