Holidays in the Future
By A.R. Norris
Holidays come from two main points of origin, religion and government. They vary from country to country, region to region, and generation to generation. Some holidays transcend to all countries but are celebrated differently based on culture and tradition. One of the most frustrating things to read in SF are holidays written using today’s traditions.
So, I’m here to talk about evolution of holidays using one as an example, then have some fun and imagine this specific holiday in the future. Good SF will look from now backward to envision from now forward. After all, history always repeats itself in some form or another. Take Halloween for example.
Rewind a couple thousand years and you see the beginning in the Celtic festival Samhain. Their New Years, this festival surrounded the agricultural cycle by signifying the end of harvest season and the start of winter and pontificated death. People dressed up in costume and built huge bonfires with crops and animal sacrifices to Celtic deities. Fast forward from there and the Romans took it over and combined Samhain with Feralia (passing of the dead) and Pomona (Goddess of fruit and trees). Next thing you know along with bonfires and costumes you now have the giving of fruits such as apples, and costumes were no longer made from animal skins.
Fast forward a bit more. Christianity has spread to the area and the Pope decides to designate the day after “All Saints Day”, to honor saints and martyrs as a way to replace the Celtic festival with a church-sanctioned tradition. Samhain/Feralia/Pomona is replaced with All-hallows/All-hallowmas. Fast forward even further and us Americans got involved in the evolution (tisk, tisk). Our huge melting pot of international peeps along with the Native Americans meshed and a new version of Halloween grew. We began to dress up, go house to house. Halloween became more about a neighborly event for children than a religious observance.
Okay, so here we are now with this current Westernized holiday in present time. As a SF writer, where do you go? Well, what aspects affected it to date? Government conquer, emerging of one religion, declining of another religion, and cultural/society perspective.
Here’s where the “what-ifs” start. What if a more conservative government conquered or grew into dominance? What if a less conservative? What if government went away all together and corporations took over? What if the notion of politically correct went to the extent that holiday’s became taboo all together? What if another religion or the original religion began growing and slowly taking over the practice?
Now for the fun part. Let’s decide on a futuristic scenario and then figure out how Halloween would be affected…
A distant Earth-like planet is colonized by a small group of pioneers from a joint scientific effort by China and Mexico. The seeds of a township are included with scientists, farmers, bakers, artists, blacksmiths, etc. The nearest colony is a year away so not many visitors happen by. The regular standard date for Halloween comes around but on this planet it falls in the middle of spring.
The first several years will be celebrated as normal, but the spirit of the holiday will diminish because everything is green and growing and there really is no changing season to signify the end of one thing and the beginning of another. Plus, they’ve just settled and they’re all relatively young, so there aren’t many dead to worry about and no real effective ghost stories to scare the few kids with. Finally, one of the group will say, “how about we move it several months to the end of this planet’s harvest?” A group council will convene and eventually everyone will agree except a few naysayers who want to keep things “as-is”.
The next few years will come around and the main feel of Halloween will return but more as a harvest festival and celebration of the long journey/new start to this planet. But even then things will be different. Instead of bobbing for apples this group doesn’t grow apples, but they got fine bananas. So instead, they hang bananas from their trees, tie their hands behind their backs and try to bring down the bananas with their teeth. And they don’t have extra fabric in this limited planet to make costumes willy-nilly, so instead they make something out of the dried harvest leaves and old clothes from previous years. To spruce it all up, they paint them in bright colors similar to Mexico’s Carnival. Since there aren’t many kids and not many houses, the trick-or-treat dies off. But look, the Chinese culture has a long tradition of fireworks, so instead of the fun trick-or-treating they let off fireworks and burn various stick forms of livestock wrapped in black powder and paper.
And there in a quick nutshell is your Halloween…in the future.
I think this is what I like most about SF, imagining what will become and how humans will evolve to meet these changes. We’re so resilient and so steeped in traditions, even if we tweak them here and there to fit our new outlooks.
What holiday do you all think will most be affected in the future (either positive or negative)? What impact will most influence this change?
A published author of speculative and science fiction, I live in Napa Valley and am married to a wonderful husband. We have 4 children ranging from 3 to 15 and two canine babies. One very evil cat — of which the dogs fear — decided to accept our offer of residency and has tolerated us for about 7 years now.
Adventures of a Sci-Fi Writer http://sci-fiadventures.blogspot.com/
Email Contact AmberNorris2000@yahoo.com