Christmas is an annual festival observed in December. The traditional Christmas narrative reaches deep into humanity's history, combining the date of the Roman Winter Solstice with the later birth of the deity worshipped by practitioners of Abrahamic religions.
The holiday fell out of favor or was banned outright several times throughout history, first in the fourth century when it played a part in the Arian Controversy, regaining prominence only after Charlemagne was crowned Emperor on Christmas day in the year 800. The second ban occurred during the Puritan Reformation, as the holiday was by then associated with drunkenness and other misbehavior. It was restored in 1660, but remained widely disreputable. In the early 19th century, Christmas was reconceived by Washington Irving, Charles Dickens, and other authors as a holiday emphasizing family, children, kind-heartedness, gift-giving, and Santa Claus.
By the 21st century it had been repurposed by corporate retailers and greeting card companies for accelerated consumerism and mass spending. The holiday was banned for the final time during the ISBN Collapse, a banking crash that destroyed a not-insignificant swathe of the global economy. After the ban was lifted, the Terran Initiative and its newly-formed global government reinstated Christmas once again.
Today, the celebration of Christmas takes place in late December and lasts nearly two weeks, involving the exchange of gifts and meals shared among family or friends. The pagan tree bedecked in ornamentation has survived the various translations of the holiday, as have representations of Santa Claus in decor and carols. It is considered bad taste for a corporation or employer to require their employees to work more than half the days during the Christmas Festival.
Almost universally, human beings celebrate the anniversary of the day a person was born by throwing a party with a specially made cake, usually decorated with lettering and the person's age. The cake is traditionally studded with the same number of lit candles as the age of the individual, or a number candle representing their age. The celebrated individual will usually make a silent wish and attempt to blow out the candles with one breath; if successful, tradition holds that the wish will be granted. In most cultures, the wish must be kept secret or it won't "come true."
Gifts wrapped in paper are typically bestowed upon the individual by friends and family. Other birthday activities may include entertainment, or a special toast or speech by the birthday celebrant. The last stanza of Patty Hill's and Mildred Hill's famous song, "Good Morning to You" (unofficially titled "Happy Birthday to You") is typically sung by the guests at some point in the proceedings.
The following is a list of birthstone gems and flowers for each month of the year:
|January||Garnet||Carnation or Snowdrop|
|February||Amethyst||Violet or Primrose|
|March||Bloodstone or aquamarine||Jonquil or Daffodil|
|April||Diamond||Sweet Pea or Daisy|
|May||Emerald||Lily of the Valley or Hawthorne|
|June||Pearl or Alexandrite||Rose or Honeysuckle|
|July||Ruby||Larkspur or Water Lily|
|August||Sardonyx or Peridot||Poppy or Gladiolus|
|September||Sapphire||Aster or Morning Glory|
|October||Opal or Tourmaline||Calendula or Cosmos|
|December||Turquoise or Zircon||Narcissus or Holly|
Whatever its origins - though they are believed to have been Japanese - Golden Week is a popular time for on and off-world travel. Despite significantly higher rates, star-shuttles, ships for hire, and hotels are often fully booked. Popular destinations include the Magellan Dome on planet Venus and the Tharsis Core colony on Mars.
January 1 represents the fresh start of a new year after a period of remembrance of the passing year, including various media outlets, which begins on the night of December 31. Publications have year-end articles that review the changes during the previous year. In some cases publications may set their entire year work alight in hope that the smoke emitted from the flame brings new life to the company. There are also articles on planned or expected changes in the coming year.
New Year's - particularly New Year's Eve - is an occasion to celebrate with alcohol and other substances. Fireworks on Earth are common at the precise stroke of midnight. Watchnight services are also still observed by many.
Traditionally held on the last day in November by the Terran Calendar, Saint Andrew's Day was a religious and national holiday celebrated by various peoples throughout what had been the European lands but particularly by those in what is now Sector 22. Traditional music, food, and dancing were enjoyed within the various communities.
The holiday continues to hold some importance to those from Sector 22 and their descendants on the Saturn stations. For the generally peaceful Saturni, a lack of invitation to the Saint Andrew's Day celebration of friends or family (or worse a stated ban from attendance) is the highest form of social disgrace.
Another late November holiday - Thanksgiving had been widely celebrated in the former United States and featured a similiar emphasis on the consumption of 'traditional' foods and with the same heavy social connotations for lack of invitation for friends or family. Hosting a turkey dinner with appropriate accouterments remains a point of pride for some wealthier Terrans and their Martian counterparts in celebration of the holiday.
Holi is an ancient "Festival of Spring," celebrated at the turn of Earth's late winter season into spring, generally in the middle of March. A celebration of forgiveness, community, and love, it tends to be celebrated almost exclusively within the Prole communities that embrace the Hindi language and culture.
For a number of days 'fights' with brightly colored powders, water balloons, and other light-hearted 'weapons of mischief' tend to claim the streets. As no one is considered 'off limits' during the holiday, Corporate citizens who make the venture into proletariat abodes can look forward to being similarly decorated. Community praise tends to be given to whoever manages to 'tag' the highest valued target with fines for the mischief taken as braggable decoration of dubious honor.
Open invitation feasts held in public areas like parks are common, with a large community bonfire held on the opening night of festivities. Stories and speeches from various religious beliefs are frequent, focusing on the theme of the triumph of Good over Evil, and citizens are often invited to toss on to the blazing fire representations of their own personal demons and struggles to overcome in the coming year. Bhang, an intoxicating cannabis-based beverage is a common party treat, encouraging a rather laid back atmosphere.
Remembrance was declared a legal holiday by the Terran Initiative one year after the the Final Frontier mission disaster, designed to be a day of memorial and reflection. It is considered unlawful for a corporation or employer to require its employees to work on Remembrance. Implementing the same methods used to discourage workers from becoming unionized in the 21st century, however, heavy coercion tends to ensure that most workers are at work regardless.
A white star on the collar is traditional during Remembrance.
Diwali is the "Festival of Lights," which is celebrated in Earth's autumn season (or October, for those outside the seasons of their species' homeworld). Diwali symbolizes the spirit's victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance.
During the celebration, buildings, stations and ships are brightly illuminated. Celebrants prepare by cleaning, renovating, and decorating their living spaces and workplaces. At the climax revelers put on their finest clothes, light the interior and exterior of their doors with diyas (typically electric candles, though tradition calls for oil lamps), light fireworks, and partake in communal meals. It's common for small gifts to be given to employees and strangers during Diwali.
Public dancing is common during Diwali. The colors red and orange are especially favored for clothing, used to demonstrate that one is in a celebrating mood.
The Lantern Festival or the Spring Lantern Festival is celebrated in spring, marking the final day of the historical Chinese calendar. The origins of the Lantern Festival trace back more than 4000 years and is popularly linked to the reign of Emperor Ming of Han at the time when Buddhism - one of few spiritual philosophies that has persisted to the modern age - was growing in in pre-globalized China. Emperor Ming was an advocate of Buddhism and noticed Buddhist monks would light lanterns in temples on a specific evening. As a result, he ordered all households, temples and the imperial palace to light lanterns on the same evening. From there it developed into a folk custom. That custom is still ongoing, and has been spread further from Earth to the outlying colonies.
During the Lantern Festival, people exchange lanterns with riddles written onto them for the recipient to solve. After nightfall they carry the lanterns outside. Groups inevitably form, and a procession of lanterns flow through the streets. After the lanterns have been released, clouds of them form above the cities and colonies that celebrate the holiday.
Though in ancient times the lanterns were fairly simple, today they are embellished with complex designs and equipped with their own mini-thrusters. Often made into the shapes of animals, planets, stars, or flowers, the lanterns are almost always red. Releasing one's lantern at the end of the night by activating the thruster is said to represent "letting go" of the past.
Saint Lucy's Day, also called the Feast of Saint Lucy, was once a religious holiday commemorating an Abrahamic martyr. Today her festival involves hard, hard partying, and a unique, luminous white drink - served only during the holiday and always with a red straw - that glows in the dark. Glowsticks and neon circlets fill clubs, bars, and other social venues during the holiday. The number of babies born nine months after Saint Lucy's Day is a subject of statistical interest.