By Megan Burkhart a professional writing student at Taylor University
Seeing as the holiday season is in full swing, and you’re more than likely gathering a stack of books to read during Christmas break, I thought it would be the perfect time to bring up the classic festivals/holidays YA books always have.
Celebrations are important to humanity, both in real life and in storytelling. YA books are great at devising these celebrations and traditions. Here are four common ones you may see and consider creating in your own story world.
Who doesn’t love Christmas? Even Hogwarts decorates for the holiday and gives its students time off to enjoy with friends and family. And who wouldn’t want to receive gifts from Father Christmas like the Pevensie children did in Narnia? In fact, we cringe at the line C.S. Lewis wrote about Narnia when the children first arrived, “It was always winter and never Christmas.” Christmas is certainly the ray of hope amidst the long, dark days of cold weather, and sometimes this may be just the ray of hope your reader needs in your book.
2. Summer Festival
Finally! Sunshine and blue skies. Fantasy worlds are waking up from their winter hibernation just in time for selling goods at the market and watching your orphan protagonist run through the streets. Of course, there’s only three outcomes for this festival: the protagonist steals something and is on the run from authorities now, the protagonist meets the person they’re going to fall in love with, or the sidekick screws things up and they’re both on the run. Okay, there could be hundreds of outcomes of this scenario, but the point is: the festival always propels the protagonist toward the adventure. How will you propel yours?
3. The “Government Makes Us or We Die” Festival
You probably have images of the reaping from The Hunger Games playing through your mind. Katniss’ desperate words of, “I volunteer as tribute,” ring through your head. This is a mandatory festival, one based on fear not enjoyment. The people owe the government because of their rebellion years earlier, blah, blah, blah … cue the vigilantes and the fight to the death. If your novel features strong political unrest, this could be the festival for you.
4. Royal Something or Other Festival
The prince is coming of age … the princess is ready to choose a suitor … the entire kingdom shuts down for the event. People travel from far and wide, and there will surely be an unlikely or forbidden love story that unfolds. Maybe there will even be a competition for the prince and/or princess’s heart. Everyone is watching because hey, this is better than reality TV (which doesn’t exist in this world). So, if you adore secrets and rags to riches (or riches to rags) stories, this may be the perfect fit for your novel.
What are other festivals/holidays you’ve seen in YA books? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.