When Holidays are Out of this World by Megan Morgan
Do vampires celebrate Christmas? Do werewolves have birthdays? What do you get a demon for Valentine’s Day?
The wonderful thing about inventing paranormal worlds and creatures is that you get to make up your own rules. Whether it be ghosts, witches, shapeshifters, the undead, or any other brand of unearthly being, you can create your own mythology surrounding them and the universe they operate in. Even traditional paranormal figures like vampires have no single accepted canon, so you can adjust and reinvent as you please.
That being said, can you insert these nonhuman creatures into holidays and celebrations in the human sphere?
HAPPY HOWL-IDAYS IN OUR WORLD
If your story is set in the real world rather than one entirely of your imagining, you might find, depending on the time of year it takes place, the need to address certain holidays. If your story takes place in December, your characters are probably going to find it hard to escape the numerous festive winter holidays that grip nations around the globe during that month. A story set in summer might find you dealing with holidays people enjoy under the sun (vampires should probably stay away from the beach, though).
Your story may actually incorporate a holiday as part of the plot, whether the story is intended to be a ‘holiday’ story or one just happens to occur in there. I find this an interesting idea, to see how a supernatural creature might celebrate one of our holidays—perhaps awkwardly, or alternately, with gusto.
I hear zombies are good at painting Easter eggs, just make sure they don’t bite them!
Shying away from holidays isn’t necessary just because your characters are from a different plane. Some of my favorite stories are ones in which paranormal creatures are commonplace in our world and so immerse themselves in all the same traditions we do. You could also incorporate very old, obsolete holidays—like Ostara and Lupercalia—into modern stories. After all, some of these creatures are centuries old. Bringing their ancient traditions into our modern age would be a fun exercise.
A HOLIDAY OF THEIR OWN
Alternately, you can make up holidays for your paranormal characters to celebrate. If they come from a different world, why not give them a unique set of traditions? Making up a whole new holiday, rite of passage, or celebration can be an exercise in creativity. Even more interesting could be these characters trying to educate their human counterparts on the festivities of unheard-of paranormal holidays. This also works in sci-fi, where your characters may originate, literally, from an entirely different universe.
The great thing about creating an extra-human character in an extra-ordinary world is that you can give them an elaborate background that includes the holidays they celebrated growing up (or after being hatched). How much meaning they attach—fond or otherwise—to these memories is up to you and can be integral to character development and plot advancement. Perhaps your werewolf becomes despondent when his human girlfriend doesn’t get him a Flea Dip Day present…a holiday the hapless girl didn’t even know existed!
Just because your creatures don’t share our genes doesn’t mean they can’t share our holidays. Let them have a little fun and a few presents—or chocolates. Also, a story doesn’t have to be classified as a holiday-themed story if a holiday is merely a plot point or pops because the tale is set during a certain time of year. Holiday stories are great, but holidays show up in ‘standard’ stories as well. And just because you write about paranormal creatures doesn’t mean they can’t join in the fun and festivities too.
Of course, Halloween is always on the table for our ghosts and ghouls. You know us humans love our supernatural creatures when we invented a whole day just to celebrate them. What if supernatural creatures have a celebration of humans too, where they dress up like doctors and lawyers and authors?
Megan Morgan is a multi-published urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and erotica author from Cleveland, Ohio. Bartender by day and purveyor of things that go bump in the night, she’s trying to turn writing into her day job so she can be on the other side of the bar for a change. Hailing from the often-wintry shores of Lake Erie, she lives with an attention-seeking cat and her adult son, both of which shed too much.