* One Town might use a lottery system to see who gives gifts to who. Name drawing. That kind of thing
* Towns might have banned it altogether.
* I always liked Christmas trees… So there me be a tree grown in the center of town(s) to decorate for the holiday.
Additional Ideas (18)
-Not allowed to go outdoors. Forced family fun time.
-Requirement to give alms to any poor that asks. (begger holiday)
-Everybody has to travel to a certain tree to put up one decoration per household.
A great holiday I read about in a book (whos name escapes me) is a festival of lights. Every year on the same date a meteor swarm hits the planet. Nothing large, but lots of falling stars. They run around with mirrors turned upside down to "collect them". Masks were worn, gifts are also exchanged, a feast occurs. It was a summer holiday. There were hundreds of laterns and luminaries spread about.
It had something to do with some mythical tale from some historical personages. However, so many generations later... most people do not care about this. It is just a holiday to have fun. (Kind of like how Christmas is for most people.) So all you need is threadbare story to provide motivation and select the traditions you want.
Those that were unfriendly throughout the year, have to be kind to one another, for this one day at least. If you argue with someone constantly, if there is a long dispute about grazing rights between your family and another, if you can't find a nice word for someone, you must treat him/her/them friendly, and bring presents. It may come from a peace treaty between bitter enemies a long time ago, or a love goddess can "sponsor" this holiday. The best moment to ask for forgiveness, and to repent for ones sins and errorrs.
All in all very nice, until your nemesis, your hated enemy comes along with a nice sword (a replacement for the one that broke during your last fight) and wants to be your friend, for a moment. It is of course _very_ unfitting for a hero to treat him badly, and attacking or even killing marks you as scum for the public, or the goddess will curse you.
A New Year where the bells are rung and people make as loud a noise as they can.
A day where the officers in the armed forces feed the men and discipline is relaxed.
A day where the King/Queen must show his/her royal sceptre to the crowd or he/she loses power (great for roleplaying.)
A day where everyone dresses up as the opposite sex.
Detestation Day: to remember those that you dislike. In most countries (the Elves being a notable exception), this is also a day to remember the departed. By focusing on the negative about those that have passed, it is easier to overcome grief and get on with living. Zarathus 14th
Hysteria: Day of jokes, practical and otherwise. Mojus 1st
A holiday for dressing up and partying. This is a celebration for the new spring. There are often death-themes to the costumes and decorations but this celebrates birth and renewal. It is typical to give up bad habits following this holiday. Gulik 10th to 20th
Day of Bliss: The final day of F'te enjoyed by some while heavily sedated.
Sea Day: The day when ships are typically put to sea. Eldus 30th
Foundation Day(Kingdom of Formour only): Day commemorating the establishment & the unification of the Kingdom. Mandalus 7th
Day of the Dead (Ghouls, Goths, & Hobgoblins only): According to myth, the dead are able to walk about on this day. This is originally a Ghoulish holiday about the legendary first Ghoul-vampire who was able to withstand sunlight on this day. The cultures that practice this holiday spend it with family visiting the gravesites of dead loved ones (just in case). Chaosphe 30th
Day of Joy (Dwarves) / Day of Wrath (Hobgoblins): Two very different holidays commemorating the same event from different cultural perspectives. This day marks the defeat of the Olde Empire. To the Dwarves, this is a day celebrating freedom; to the Hobgoblins, this is a day of grim remembrance. Cabbus 2nd
Emperor's Birthday (Byzant Empire only): Celebrates the current Emperor's birthday. Ignotius 23rd
Halloween: A day for dressing up, partying, and remembrance of the dead. This is also a festival for the final harvest and preparing for the upcoming winter. Erisus 30th
Commercialmas: A mid-winter holiday for gift-giving and spending time with family. Malclypse 25th
New Year's Eve: The last day of the year. The evening is typically spent in a drunken stupor. Malclypse 30th
Additional player-added holidays:
New Hope: (Former Vridtown) Celebrating the regrowth over adversity and our new hope for prosperity following the city's reclamation from an Undead horde. Malclypse 22nd
Dead Man Dance: For the foundation of the United Darkmouth Emirates & the overthrow of Archmagus Vrid Krege. Chaosphe 4-5
January 1st-New Year's Day A time to sleep off the alcoholic excesses which mark most people's New Years's Eve.
January 6th-Christmas's End A time when all the decorations are taken down and burnt, binned or put away for next year. School/work starts the next day.
March 15th-The Day of Love, when people all over the world exchange gifts
June 1st-Killem Day. The only day in the year when hunting is allowed,even in places where hunting would normally be very strictly punished.By allowing this, the idea is that it lessens poaching during the rest of the year. No work or school takes place. Laws banning weapons are relaxed outside the cities on this day.
September 5th-Victory Day, when people celebrate with fireworks the end of the Bathlandic/Imperial war that took place a century ago.
November 1st-Halloween-where the dead really do rise. A time of danger in the capital city in paticular.But also a time for the dead to meet their relatives.Most dead are not evil but some are.
December 24th- Christmas Eve-Like ours except Father Christmas really does come and fill stockings of children and adults alike.Bathland has the death penalty for murder but no executions are preformed at Christmas time.
December 25th-Christmas Day-very much like ours.Officers serve the men in the army. Rich people serve their servants. Even prison officers give the prisoners Christmas dinner! A topsy-turvy time.Goverment stops for a day.Roast wrapper eaten in some areas.
December 26th-Boxing Day-Money given as gifts,and boxing matches occasionly take place.Very much like ours.
December 31st New Year's Eve. At midnight people stand on chairs and jump into the New Year.Prisoners bang their doors for a minite at midnight without punishment.Fireworks, singing and often debauary and drunkeness.
Fremos 35: Day of the People: Day for friendships, family, loved ones. Token gifts are sometimes given.
Fremos 36: Day of the NewYear: PARTY like you were a Dwarventi! Gift giving.
These are the last three days of the year.
Houses and businesses are often decorated with colorful little flags. There are no "holiday colors". The colors people use match their personality and sometimes their guild/ clan.
Day of the Gods- The Mid week day (34th in this case) is always the day of observance (commune with diety forces). If you had been skimping on your visits to temple, this is the day you really should go. Many people avoid the serious crowds at the temples, and worship together at their home cretchs. People occasionally dust off their holy week tabards and sashes, to "show off their piety".
Day of the People- Gather at home or visit friends/ acquaintances. It is the biggest social day of the year. Those whos jobs involve serving and sales are often working this day, so they do everything in the night. Gifts are often exchanged by family. These gifts are normally fairly small, but exceptions can be made. The new "in thing" is to wrap them in colorful paper. (Paper being a huge new trade in the Known World, given the impressor's (printing press) guild's existance).
The only real tradition of this day is the large family dinner, a small feast. Various family members gather and entertain each other after dinner.
Day of the New Year- New Years day is the day when people put on new (fancy) clothes and go be with their real friends. It is mostly a night time event, where adults have sophisticated little parties that emulate the parties of the SecondLand Nobles. In Antioch, nobody will leave before dawn beause the elementals are especially busy this night.
During the day, the giving of gifts to friends and employers/ employees is common.
Note: Dwarves work harder than any othe species. When they do party, they party with such an exuberance that they often do not remember the previous week. It is not just drink they take to excess, they over eat, flirt, sing loud songs, and generally act out. Thus the phrase, party like a Dwarventi.
The next day if often called "The day of the dead" as people are recovering from their new years exuberance.
On Sunreturn Day people give gifts to each other. Neither executions nor assassinations happen on such a day.Prisoners are decently treated. Ordinary people can ask questions to the King and the high officers of state,and, within reason, their questions are answered.People eat roast wrapper, sweet puddings, and, if they can afford it, jewels. The more exspensive the jewel, the better it tastes.Ordinary stone people eat quartz at their Sunreturn meal.Those who are richer get to eat amythest and all kinds of semi-presious stones. The aristocrats and the Royal Family eat diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sahppires.
Five days later comes New Year's Eve. People clean their houses and take down the decorations and at midnight they jump off their chairs into the new year,sing, dance and kiss and make as much noise as possible to welcome in the New Year. The Old Year's calanders are burned and paper effegys stuffed with gunpowder of the Old Year are set alight on funeral pyres.
The celebration takes a more sombre note with the lighting of the candles, where each family lights a candle for a loved one not home, or a loved one lost. This can be recent, or from a great time ago. The lords and ladies of the realm perform recitations of their lineage, lighting candles for relatives long since dead. The more poor who cannot afford the larger candles often are only able to remember those who have passed away recently. The evening is concluded with solemn hymns, alcoholic beverages to ward away the bite of the cold, and admonitions to children to behave for the rest of the winter. Good children often recieve small gifts of candy, and small toys to entertain them for the rest of the cold months
Presents of all kinds are given,and debts are not collected upon this special day, nor are houses repossessed.Great fires are kept burning in the houses and, providing there is no danger caused by them, in the fields and streets. It is a day of remarkable free speech,where almost everything,with the exception of blatent incitement of crime or treason, is allowed,even in the Royal Court itself.For one day the fear level drops to almost nothing.
Feasts are had by all, as it is preferable to slaughter and eat part of the herd than to let all (including and especially the sentients) die from starvation. As one large animal will provide more meat than what a small family can eat, this feast is often a big communal celebration. In small villages in the countryside, the entire community gathers for one large feast. In urban areas, Commercialmas is still enjoyed by large gatherings of family & friends.
Gifts are exchanged at this time, and many merchants offer competing discounts for items. However, typically only one gift is given--rather than a plenitude--and personalised &/or hand-made items are preferred. For Commercialmas, a well-thought gift that you make yourself is preferable to a large total purchase cost. As gifts are often personally made, and far fewer of them are exchanged, this holiday is not marked by scrambling at stores, short tempers, insipid jingles, or crashing one's mule cart into someone else's for the last parking spot in the bazaar...
The Night of Burning is a national holiday in Silmaroth devoted to the Saints of Vigilance. During the second month of the year, as the winter winds blow colder than at any other time, at the very night of the full moon, the Silmarians celebrate the 'Burning Night'. This is a night of Vigilance and a ward against evil. During the celebration the peasantry dress in their warmest winter clothing and patrol the cities and countryside armed with torches and spears, clubs and bows. If a Hexenjaeger (Witchhunter) is present during this night, it is believed that those present will be blessed with good health and good fortunes the next year. But those that are black of heart should beware, for they may fall ill or even die the next year.
The witches and warlocks (or anything resembling witches and warlocks) that can be found prowling the streets at this night will be dragged along by the ecstatic crowd and be burnt at the stake. Some local customs claim that if more than three witches and warlocks are burnt in a particular location, the countryside surrounding that location will be blessed with a rich harvest and a mild winter the coming year.
Some legends whisper of grave injustices committed during this celebration, of old neighbourly disputes unjustly settled as one neighbour claims the other as a witch or a warlock. These legends tell of the restless spirits of those so unfairly treated and how those spirits are lured into the worship of the Whispering King; an undead entity trapped in his royal tomb, warded and entrapped by elder runes and unable to walk the earth. Still he whispers, his incantations of blasphemy corrupting the land and casting shadows over the hearts of folk and forest. His promises and curses seduce the spirits of those unjustly slain, binding them to his eternal service.
At the Night of the Burning his whispers are particularly powerful, it is said, and the acts of evil committed in the guise of good are sure ways to damn a spirit into eternal slavery in the service of the Whispering King. Additionally his restless dead spirit slaves are free to haunt any location during this night, excepting the places in which witches are burnt.
In an accursed land, Long Night, the Winter Solstice, is the most terrible night of them all, for the dread powers of Darkness are at their peak this night, a full twenty hours of pitch-covered skies. It is custom for men and women to spend this night in hiding with their families, weapons and holy sigils at hand to fend off the Black One's might in the inky dark. Runes of the patriarch's blood are drawn upon the entry ways to the house, a desperate magic to fend off the evils, and woe unto the family who has no man's blood to give. Woe also unto the one who hides alone, easy prey for the curses of the Black One. So too, do sickness, hunger, and terror come, fell and eternal companions to the Black One, and, despite the efforts of the healers, many of the elderly and youngest are lost during the unseemingly long night.
The next morn, the morn of the First Dawn, the people emerge from their holes, and a grand pyre is built for the dead. That tended to, the people then celebrate, a celebration of survival. While gifts are not exchanged, and it is rare that there would be enough food for a feast, stories and song and dance and fire are a part of this day, a two fold rejoicing in those who survived, and a committing to memory of those who were lost. It is on First Dawn that children are given names, for it is custom that no child be named until they have survived the first Long Night. Many marriages, too, occur on First Dawn, a recognition of the strength of a bond tempered during the Long Night.
The Bishop heard of this and was outraged, requesting the secular authorities to arrest him and throw him into prison on charges of misuse of church funds and heresy. But when the City Guards turned up to arrest him a beam of bright sunlight shone down upon him and when it vanished in a few seconds, he had gone as well.
The next year on Sunreturn Eve there were strange rumours of a flying sleigh pulled by boars, the sacred animal of Mammon. People of all religions woke with gifts in their stockings and socks, mostly children, but some adults as well, providing they had been good. Bad people only got lumps of coal. Since then the same thing has happened every year. There have been attempts to capture the sleigh but they have all failed,and resulted in the people involved having their spare socks stuffed with coal.
Nobody knows where Father Olaf lives. Some say he lives in Heaven, others that he lives with the Gods and Goddesses, others that he lives in a cave in the Sabertooth Mountians or at the inaccessable ice-gripped North or South Pole of the planet.
Noone has seen the sleigh except on Sunreturn Eve either.
All across Banhoesea and the many islands and fleets controlled by the De Madden Company, New Year's Eve at midnight is known as Cannon Eve-a time when all manner of noise is made. The cannons and catapaults are let loose at midnight and fired harmlessly into the sea, whilst fireworks both legal and prohibited are set off at such a time and there are cheers and kisses, singing of songs and dancing in circles, and general merriment in which the highest Admirals take part along with their underlings. The noise is to drive away demons that might be lying in wait to attack the new year, and also to drive the Old Year away from the world.
(Aside: there's a similar old custom in our parts of the world to make a symbolic representation of winter at it's end, and burn it (or drown it) to get rid of winter and embrace spring. I also heard somewhere, that animals like rats were on occassion sentenced in courts for their crimes against the people, as a warning to others. This whole concept seems to have been a favourite in the past.