Christmas Is Coming #amwriting

Or, you know, whatever. There have been winter rituals/celebrations for, like, EV-ver, what with the getting cold and getting warm and the nights getting longer then shorter and stuff.

The winter rituals have ranged from human sacrifice to sleeping in an overstuffed chair with “Christmas Story” in a 24-hour loop.

Bits and bobs have accreted on the rituals like barnacles on ships. Certain foods, certain music, certain decorations, certain sentiments, certain meanings. Even certain weather, although the southern hemisphere of this here planet Earth has totally different weather from up here in snowville.

You can see where I’m going from here. It might be useful to your character or to the fabric of your work to include something about a winter ritual/festival. Now is a good time to find inspiration for that!

I found an entire book on the tradition of hiding an ornament shaped like a pickle on the Christmas tree. In case you don’t know, Woolworth’s department store imported blown-glass ornaments from Germany in the 1890’s, including a set of vegetables. One of the vegetables was a cucumber. Customers were like, “What’s Christmassy about a pickle??” And the marketing department said, “Oh, that’s an old tradition in Germany, didn’t you know?” (It isn’t.) “They hide the green pickle ornament in the green tree and the first child to find it gets a special present.” <–Big Fat Lie

But the pickle ornament (which my family, immigrants generations ago from Germany, never heard of) sparked my imagination, and I used it as a story seed for one of the several novels I’m currently laboring to finish.

I even made my own pickle ornament one feverish Christmas.

Whether your character is modern or ancient or futuristic, human or animal or alien or magical, the turnings of the year might be vitally important or a remnant of racial memory, especially the turning from dead winter to the renewal of spring.

Use it.

A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Write about a character who rejects the winter rituals of their culture.



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “Christmas Is Coming #amwriting

  1. Joey

    December 12, 2016 at 1:07pm

    Interesting, like those things people send newbies out to find in the woods. You remember what that’s called? I cannot remember.
    I love pickles, but can’t say whether I’d put one on my tree, although I can see how it could be a good conversation piece.
    I love this time of year, but I like after the solstice better, cause later sunsets. 🙂

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      December 12, 2016 at 2:08pm

      Snipe. I’ve never been snipe hunting. On the other hand, I would go Snape hunting any time, any place.

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      • Joey

        December 12, 2016 at 8:29pm

        Yeah, snipe! And me too, but now we can’t hunt Alan Rickman, cause gone to the other side.

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        • Author

          Marian Allen

          December 13, 2016 at 7:32am

          But we can still hunt Snape, ’cause literary characters are immortal. Bwa-ha-ha-ha-haaaaa!

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      December 12, 2016 at 4:37pm

      I have a blown-glass pickle ornament in addition to the papier mache one I made when I was feverish. 😀

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  2. Jane

    December 13, 2016 at 10:44am

    So…the pickle thing’s a big fat lie….

    What about the spider in the web ornament story?
    Is that one bogus, too???

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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      December 13, 2016 at 1:02pm

      The what in the WHAT?? Okay, I had to look that one up — never heard that one before. Ick! Geez, folks will make tear-jerking Christmas legends about damn near anything, won’t they? Here, I’ll do one: Once upon a time, long ago, some poor children went to sleep sad and hungry on Christmas Eve. During the night, their flimsy door blew open and their cabin filled with woodland creatures. For the first time in months, the children were warm and slept deeply and well. Oh, they were orphans, ‘kay? So THE-eh-EN, in the morning, the animals slipped out, but they left piles and piles of poop and hair all over the floor. The children sat up and rubbed their eyes, and cried out in astonished delight, for Father Christmas (or Baby Jesus or some damn random spider or maybe Moby Dick) had transformed all the poop into delicious food and all the hair into warm clothing. So if you find mouse poop under the tree or your cat hacks up a hairball, celebrate the Christmas magic! Howzzat?

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      • Jane

        December 14, 2016 at 10:05am

        Amazing and miraculous, just as it should be!

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