All of us have our time and family honored ways to celebrate the holidays. There's food, of course, and family activities to share. There's gift giving -- do you wait until Christmas morning or indulge yourself by opening them on Christmas Eve? Maybe you put a live tree up and decorate it on Christmas Eve. Or do the neighborhood drive by to check out the outdoor Christmas displays. However you celebrate there's no one right way. There's only...different.
Which made me think of how our heroes and heroines might celebrate a holiday as significant in our culture as Christmas. In my book HEARTSTONE, the hero Eric d'Ebrur would not celebrate Christmas. He's not from Earth after all and different customs form on different planets. But there are a group of people, almost lost in the mists of time, that Eric's people might venerate. Those are the Starfarers who gave Eric's people the ability to shapeshift and who gave them the Stones of Power, including the Heartstone itself. How might they celebrate? I'm sure there would be family gatherings led by the matriarch (Eric's people have an unusual matriarchal family structure even though the political structure is more patriarchal). They'd probably decorate using stars -- I can see them hanging on mobile like devices so they spin and dance in any breeze. These mobiles might even be windchimes (I do love windchimes :D) The star motif would probably be used to decorate holiday clothing but, since these people are for the most part more formal than those of us from Earth, I see it as more subdued but no less glittery (after all, what glitters more than stars in a velvet night sky?) The Feast -- and there's always a feast, lol -- would involve a hunt as part of the celebration of the men's shapeshifting skills. The women, who are empaths, would celebrate their gift by sharing with others, not just their family. Who better than an empath to give you the perfect gift? :D
In my current wip, RIDER, the heroine Tara Rowan comes from a culture of Independent Traders who travel the galaxy and don't call any one place home. Well, except for their ship. Their ships are family ships though some are smaller than others. But even if the family splits going to different ships, there are the Trade Fairs which have a huge influx of Traders every two years. The purpose of the Trade Fair is to exchange different materials for sale but, if the family is all there...why not celebrate too? Would there be a particular symbol, like our Christmas tree or Eric's Star? Probably not...these families come from many different backgrounds. But I'm sure each family would have a motif all their own. For Tara, her family might be symbolized by a rowan tree. Another family might have a racing beast (depicting how speedy they are in making time between deliveries). And, yes, there would be traditional dishes at the Family Feast (you know there's always a feast, lol) but these dishes could be unique for each family based on their taste or even ability to find/purchase/barter for the ingredients. The main thing, I think, would be that the family would be together for this small period of time and that alone is cause for celebration.
As you can see, there are many ways to celebrate a holiday (or to feast it :D) What's important is that we all celebrate using traditions that are significant to us and our families...and that we celebrate the differences between our traditions and those of those around us. There is one right way to celebrate and there's no wrong way to celebrate.
Enjoy your holidays, my friends. May they be filled with love and family, laughter and, of course, good food.