This week: New Year'sEdited by: Robert Waltz
More Newsletters By This Editor
1. About this Newsletter
2. A Word from our Sponsor
3. Letter from the Editor
4. Editor's Picks
5. A Word from Writing.Com
6. Ask & Answer
7. Removal instructions
For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
― T.S. Eliot
I would say happy new year but it's not happy; it's exactly the same as last year except colder.
― Robert Clark
Here in the US, we're accustomed to observing a "new year's day" on January 1, close to the December solstice. But in other places, and at other times, different days were considered to end one year and begin another.
This isn't surprising; the idea of "a year begins on this date" is fairly arbitrary. Some well-known examples include Rosh Hashana and the Chinese New Year, both of which have the added complication of incorporating a lunar calendar. In antiquity, in the West, the New Year was considered to occur on or near the vernal equinox (which is one reason why, to this day, the twelfth month has the "dec-" prefix that's usually associated with the number 10).
In fantasy and science fiction writing, often we're dealing with not only other cultures, but other worlds, and their marking of the turning of a year might be quite different - if they do it at all.
We live on a world with a relatively transparent atmosphere, suitable for astronomical observations. On most days (unless you live in Seattle), you can see the sun; you can calculate where it is in the sky and work out a calendar accordingly. Even prehistoric humans did this. The only thing to decide, then, is when you want to declare the end of one cycle and the beginning of the next: a solstice? An equinox? Something in between?
This would be complicated on, say, a planet with little to no axial tilt, and thus no seasons, but you'd still be able to mark a revolution of the planet around its sun by observations of background stars.
Consider also, though, a place where there's no visible sun. Maybe you have permanent cloud cover, or maybe you're not on a planet at all (use your imagination there). What need, then, would there be of marking such a cycle? Maybe you can tell night from day, and time is entirely measured in terms of days.
Or, for the more exotically-minded, perhaps your imagined world is part of a binary star system, where the planet orbits one star while the pair in turn orbits another - cycles within cycles.
So in developing a fantasy world, consider how the situation affects your culture's idea of the measurement of time, and don't be constrained to the familiar New Year's Day.
Some fantasy for your December enjoyment:
Submit an item for consideration in this newsletter!
Have an opinion on what you've read here today? Then send the Editor feedback! Find an item that you think would be perfect for showcasing here? Submit it for consideration in the newsletter!
Don't forget to support our sponsor!
Last time, in "Feast or Fast" , I wrote about different ways of commemorating an occasion such as Thanksgiving.
Write 2 Publish 2020 : We are oddities in that holidays or observances are created by our ancestors of not so long ago, yet in the last years or so, there have been attacks on our culture. Those who see our traditions as something to demean, tear down and even abolish. When writing this very thought can become the basis of a story.When a small faction of a group rise up and denounce an established tradition. It can become heated and violent. We've seen it happen in our country. I also think of the story THE LOTTERY by Shirley Jackson. When do people stand against something that's a tradition and say no?
When the excesses of the aristocracy became just too much, the French people rose up in bloody revolution. They wanted to change everything, right down to the names of the months; these had, some thought, too much cultural baggage to stand. Other revolutions in other countries had similar goals. While the month-naming thing didn't stick, many things did change. But it doesn't take a full-fledged revolution for people to cast off traditions that no longer work for them; some change is more glacial (and doesn't necessarily involve the guillotine).
And that's it for me for this year - see you in the next one! Until then, enjoy the holidays and
To stop receiving this newsletter, click here for your newsletter subscription list. Simply uncheck the box next to any newsletter(s) you wish to cancel and then click to "Submit Changes". You can edit your subscriptions at any time.