Well, the Southern Solstice is upon us, and families are frantically preparing for the annual Feast of Overeating. I resist Christmas, but it seems to be inescapable. So I suppose that an annual round of celebrations and commemorations must be expected in all but the most starkly rationalist of settings.
Anyway, here is a list of the holidays, anniversaries, and celebrations observed by the Imperials in my setting, who are mostly space-dwelling and don't have to put up with any actual seasons. Most colonies in the setting doubtless have holidays &c. connected with the round of seasons imposed by the worlds they live on.Imperial holidays and anniversaries
- 1 January: New Year’s Day
New Year’s Day is a public holiday in many colonies as well as the Empire. Most people spend it quietly, recovering from the exertions of New Year’s Eve. It is a day for announcing new undertakings.
On New Year’s Day the Imperial Council releases the ‘New Year’s Honours List’, announcing which people have been awarded knighthoods, and which lords have been co-opted to the Imperial Council.
- 14 February: Valentine’s Day
The old festival of romantic love is a public holiday. People celebrate it with ancient fertility customs, such as giving flowers to their sweethearts, blind dating, and party games involving kissing and random allotment of partners. Costume parties and masked balls are also common.
- 29 February: Leap Year’s Day
The Empire follows the Gregorian calendar (even though the seasons on Earth are now irrelevant). In the PDT system leap years are those that leave a remainder of three when divided by four, except for years ending in 47 but not 047.
29 February (when it occurs) is a sort of Saturnalia, a day for pranks and jokes. Everything is turned topsy-turvy: junior midshipmen preside at wardroom dinners and so forth. It is also a public holiday.
- 18 April: Anniversary of the destruction of Earth
Official commemorative services are held at ‘dawn’ on the anniversary of the destruction of Earth. After work Imperial Servants congregate again, often in public places, for their dismal annual ritual. With the scenescape set to show some famous beauty-spot on Old Earth, the party-goers try desperately to enjoy themselves until midnight, often drinking heavily.
As the hour approaches a hush falls. Old hands drain their glasses and steel themselves. A wave of flame like breaking surf roars across the panorama, breaking mountains like sand castles, consuming seas. The party-goers are engulfed in heatless light. A few, holograms all along, might char and puff into instant ash. All goes silent. The sun and stars burn untwinkling in a black velvet sky. The scene around is desolation.
It doesn’t get easier each year. It gets worse.
- 1 May: May Day
The May Day public holiday is an occasion for family gatherings and indulgence of children. They receive presents from their elders in the morning. There are public amusements for children: clowns, acrobatic displays, childish games and so forth. Family celebrations follow at night.
- 21 June: Missahan Day
This public holiday celebrates the arrival of the first colonists at Reykjavik.
- 20 July: Tranquillity Day / Apollo 11 Day
This public holiday celebrates the landing of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on Luna.
- 27 August: Eichberger Day
This public holiday celebrates the first faster-than light trip, taken by Tomitomo Eichberger’s from Mayflower to Tau Ceti.
- 29 September: Michaelmass
Michaelmass is the anniversary of the destruction of Orinoco. The public holiday is to commemorate of the oath that the Fleet swore after that event.
- 5 November: Mayflower Day
The anniversary of the destruction of Mayflower is set aside for the remembrance of those who have given their lives in the Imperial cause. It is a day of solemn ceremonies of remembrance, laying of wreaths and singing such hymns as Kipling’s Recessional.
- 31 December: New Year’s Eve
On New Year’s Eve Imperials party until midnight to see the new year in, sing Auld Lang Syne, and so on.