Saturday, 15 December 2012
A DAY TO REMEMBER
Well, it's December and it's nearly Christmas. I don't suppose there's a person on the planet who can't name 25th December as Christmas Day. Coming a close second for dates carved into our memories is probably St. Valentine's Day. There are lots of other days that are remembered for all sorts of reasons. Many of them are saints days, but not all. On the 13th December my dear friend, Pia Fenton (who writes as Christina Courtenay for Choc Lit - Highland Storms, The Silent Touch of Shadows, Trade Winds, The Scarlet Kimono, and The Gilded Fan) posted on Facebook and Twitter. 'Happy St. Lucia Day' the post said. St. Lucia? Who was she? Well, a few years ago now a gardener friend of mine brought me - because I'm a writer - a book a customer had asked him to consign to the bonfire. It was called A Dictionary of Days. I said,'thank you very much' but I've rarely looked at it. But I was intrigued by St. Lucia Day and had to look it up. St Lucia (also known as Lucy) was a 4th century virgin martyr. She was thought to help diseases of the eye because Lucia comes from the Latin - lux - for light. She is particularly remembered in Sweden when on the 13th December headresses of candles are worn to bring light to dark days. Pia is half Swedish. So, I looked up a few more special days in December. 6th December - St. Nicholas' Day. Only Santa Claus, as we no know him, himself. To this day in some countries - Germany is one of them - children are given prsents on this day. 7th December - Dismal Day. Apparently there are many Dismal Days throughout the year and the 7th December is one of them. Don't we all have one of those sometimes? Dismal Day is also known as Evil or Unlucky Day and we all know about those, too, don't we? So perhaps not worth celebrating, then? 17th December - Saturnalia Day. Saturnalia Day has a nice, ancient ring to it, I think. In the religion of ancient Rome this was a festival in honour of Saturn, the Roman god of agriculture. It was the time when crops were sown, but also a time of unrestrained celebration - and isn't a bit of the latter good for us all now and then? As a short story writer I have written - and had published - more than a few stories set around Mothers' Day, Fathers' Day, Easter Sunday, and Bonfire Night to name but a few of the more common celebrations. But how about 'Kissing Day' anyone? This used to be very popular in Yorkshire and falls on the Friday following Shrove Tuesday should anyone want to join in next year. There is also - to my amusement - something called Plot Night. Oh that they would arrive fully-formed on one night of the year so we could write them all down! But Plot Night is only Bonfire Night by another name ....alas. As a short story writer I'm used to writing 'out of season' as it were. I start my summer holiday stories sitting at my desk in fingerless gloves and with a scarf wrapped around my neck, in deepest, coldest, February. Christmas stories are written with the windows wide open and the fan turned to cold and oscillating - in a good year, that is! But Pia's post got me thinking.....why restrict ourselves to the well-known celebration days? Wouldn't something that makes a reader go 'Eh? - What day is that?' give our stories the edge and catch an editor's eye? I'm off for a trawl through my book now. I rather like the sound of Multitude's Idle Day, which is another name for Christmas Day. Hmmm....can't see an editor breaking her neck over that one! And here's a photo of Pia as a child in Sweden on St. Lucia's Day - with her permission, of course.