Do They Celebrate Christmas in Aviandria? Here is what they do.

Do they celebrate Christmas in Aviandria? The answer to that question would be, no. Although Aviandria reflects many aspects of our world, it is not our world. The celebration of Christmas as we are familiar with it now is very much an invention of our world, and those in Aviandria would have had no way of learning about it. Therefore, any celebration they might have for the reasons Christians celebrate Christmas in this world, would not be called Christmas, and would not necessarily happen in the winter months. That would be a discussion for another post.
However, just because they don’t celebrate Christmas like we do, it doesn’t mean those in Aviandria must hunker down and survive the winter without any holidays to speak of. As I have said before, Aviandria mirrors our world in many ways, and just like many different cultures throughout the history of our world, those in Aviandria recognize that the winter grows darker and darker. They crave something to brighten the dark, dreary days of that season when the light has seemed to become so fleeting. That is probably why, like so many cultures of our world, they have their winter celebration in conjunction with the winter solstice. In Aviandria, the darkest day of the year is set aside as a special holiday—a day to celebrate the fact that they have made it through the darkest part of the year, and look forward to the growing light in the days to come. It is a symbol of both accomplishment and fresh beginnings. Because of this, it is the beginning of the new year according to Aviandrian reckoning. It is called The Day of the Lights, or often shortened to The Lightening.

The Day of the Lights is one of biggest celebrations of the year in Aviandria. People will travel in order to be with family if weather permits. The planning and preparation for the celebration can last for weeks. There are several components to this celebration, with many traditions and variations depending on the region and the economic status of the family. Many of these traditions may sound familiar since they are not altogether different from some of our world’s winter traditions. However, regardless of the variations, there are four components that remain the same throughout Aviandria.

1-Lights. This seems fairly obvious with a name like the Day of the Lights, or The Lightening. One of the main purposes of the celebration is to bring light to the darkest day of the year. This is not a day to ration candles or oil for lamps. Every family has at least one candle or lamp which they keep burning throughout the night, or at least until midnight if they can’t manage the entire night. Some families save candles or lamp oil carefully through the entire year to be able to do this. Others, if they don’t have the money or resources to enable them to last that long, will combine with other families so that everybody together can enjoy the tradition. The cities are full of light on this night. Accipitridaelynn, the capital city of Aviandria, is especially splendid to behold on this night. The city, which is set on a hill twinkles and glows with thousands of lights, each one reflecting off the calm waters of the bay below. Up at the top of the hill, like a crown, the palace gleams. It is traditional for each room with a window in the palace to have a candle set in the window. With everybody working, it takes the entire staff of the palace somewhere between a half hour and an hour to light every candle.
One tradition that is fairly wide spread, though not practiced by everybody, is for the children to make a special lantern or lamp for their light. They will use whatever materials they have on hand. Sometimes lanterns are crafted from sticks lashed together, or old, cracked cups. Some are even made from hollowed vegetables, like winter squashes, gourds, or even carved out turnips. Unlike what we do for Halloween here, however, they are not usually carved into faces. They usually involve pleasing designs that are more beautiful than scary.
There are specific greetings/farewells people use leading up to this holiday, much like our “Merry Christmas,” or “Happy Holidays.” Because of the focus on light, most people will either say “May your light burn long and bright,” or “Good Lightening,” when meeting or taking leave of another person. This will usually begin somewhere around two weeks to the actual day.

2-Food. What is a celebration without some sort of special food? In Aviandria, this is especially true. On the night of the Day of the Lights, there is usually a feast of some sort. Most families strive to make this meal something special, whether it is a grand feast in the palace, or a special cut of meat or a carefully baked loaf of soft, white bread in a humble cottage. The most important thing, however, is that the family eats it together around their Lightening candle and enjoys each other’s company. Often times grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and sometimes even friends join together so that everybody might contribute to make the meal even grander.

3-Music. As Alder once told Ashlynn, “Music is a natural part of a celebration.” The Day of the Lights is no different. The day is filled with singing and sometimes the playing of instruments while the preparations are being made for the evening celebration. In the evening, there is more singing, playing, and usually some dancing after the feast. Although some families do it themselves, often times the saying “the more the merrier” seems to apply to this part of the celebration, and those who haven’t already joined with others for the feast will often leave their homes to gather and join a larger group for the dancing. There are songs specifically for The Lightening, but they don’t confine themselves to only these. Usually, however, they focus on the uplifting, cheerful songs and save the sad stories for later.

4-Giving. In Aviandria, this is a time for giving, but rather than giving things, people give time and service. They watch for things that will help to make a family member or friends life a bit easier or pleasant and then do it for them. Once in a while, it will involve something tangible, but more often than not, it isn’t something you could wrap or even touch. Some people will try to do it in secret, but that isn’t a requirement. It is just their way of trying to lighten somebody else’s life a bit.

To list each individual tradition associated with this Aviandrian celebration would be far too complicated, and practically impossible, but these are a few things that will give you an idea of what this season is like in Aviandria. May your winter celebration, whether it is Christmas, Hanukkah, or something else, be as wonderful and full of light as the Day of the Lights is in Aviandria, and may your light burn long and bright.

What parts of the Day of the Lights would you most enjoy if you were in Aviandria? Do you have any holiday traditions of your own that you particularly enjoy?

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