Just 2 weeks until Christmas. I’m an athiest, but that doesn’t mean I don’t celebrate Christmas, it just means it isn’t the day my saviour was born. It still holds great personal and social meaning for me. So merry Christmas regardless which wierd bearded or hairless man / woman / lizard you believe has reserved you a place in heaven / hell. This brings me to seasons, religions and festivals in fantasy worlds. Much of my year revolves around seasons and holidays because they are the points where meaningful social interaction happens.
In writing The West Queen, and the follow up The Returned Prince, I’ve had to track seasons because the action takes place over the course of a year. I start on the Summer solstice and by late Autumn the book winds up. Book 2, The Returned Prince, picks up in Autumn and spans until the end of Spring and Book 3, The Fallen King, ends on the following Summer Solstice. Over that time I’ve had to track the weather and make sure I keep the backdrop and extras consistent. Adding a touch of season even when the story happens over a relatively short period is an easy way to add flavour and draw a reader in. At any point in your story the reader should be able to tell you what time of year it is and what important things are happening because of that. It’s just a nice way to make your world complete.
Holidays and religion are tightly bound. Some holidays are seasonal, such as a harvest or Spring festival, but most will in some way be religous. Religion is often called the glue that binds a society but it has also been referred to as the opiate of the masses. I think both are true. Religious bodies, such as churches, hold a great deal of social power both because they say they hold the secret to avoiding hell and because they are a catalyst for social expression and reformation. In the past (European) it was largely only the church that had books and taught reading and writing. This made religion very powerful because the local priest could look information up in a book and send and receive letters. They were the internet of the day. So even festivals that aren’t really religious become religious because of the great power and influence the church had. Holidays are also a great way, in writing, to mark the passage of time and to reveal intricacies of your world. Things such as traditional gifts, little ceremonies, songs, dances and foods will glue your people together in the mind of your reader.