Traditions of the Future

Okay, so I've been giving a lot of thought to traditions and holidays recently, and I thought today would be a good day to discuss it what with Easter on Sunday and whatnot.

I'm a huge lover of the dystopian genre, and I'm still devouring every dystopian novel I can get my hands on. I've noticed that very few of them make reference to holidays or traditions, and it's caused me to wonder.

When (or If, I suppose some could say) the apocalypse hits, will we abandon those things we hold dear? Will we stop celebrating birthdays or having family traditions that form crucial bonds? It seems to me that when people go through crisis, it's those things that prevail the most, those traditions--those family lines--they cling to the hardest.

I recognize new traditions or ceremonies in dystopian novels (The Reaping in The Hunger Games, for example, or The Matching ceremony in Matched, or the assigning of careers in The Giver).

But what of holidays and traditions we have now? I'd like to think--and hope, perhaps--that even if I functioned under a severely limiting government, that I'd hold my children's birthday celebrations by the light of a candle in the dead of night. That we'd find a way to continue the bonding traditions that build the loyalty and relationships that are needed to endure life in such a society.

Maybe I'm just nostalgic from reading The Little House on the Prairie books with my daughter, where Mary and Laura labor in secret to create Christmas gifts for each other. As part of my childhood, I loved saving and creating simple, secret gifts for my family. And I'd like to think that those kinds of traditions, those kinds of binding events, wouldn't be eradicated in the future, no matter who's in a position of power.

What do you think? Do you see more value in holidays and traditions than simple ceremony?


Natalie Aguirre said...

I agree. Holidays and birthdays are such important traditions. And bring so many happy memories. I'd hope they'd survive too.

Carolyn Twede Frank said...

I agree too. Thanks so much for the post. It has given me some things to think about concerning the dystopic novel I'm currently working on.

ilima said...

I've never thought of that, but it's true, you don't see that in Dystopian. Interesting...

Stephsco said...

This is such a good point! This is probably a contributer to why I have issues with a lot of dystopian fiction - specifically YA. I actually just put down a YA dystopian after a few chapters because the world building was not believable.

The Hunger Games is a great example with enough nuance among the districts to at least *imply* that some districts had different traditions. Plus the whole reaping was a central to the book. But when a dystopian has such a homogenous culture - EVERYONE does this and NO ONE EVER does that, I can't buy it.

I like your idea of incorporating those elements into stories.

Jaime Morrow said...

Wow, you raise a great point. I'm currently writing a sci fi/dystopian story and it never even occurred to me to include some of those major holidays. I think it might be because even now we see some of the holidays rooted in Christian tradition, for example, starting to become more and more mainstream and secularized (putting aside the whole pagan influences on such holidays as Christmas, of course). It isn't so far outside the realm of possibility that they might just get so far away from their origins that they morph into something else altogether or just fade right out. Or with dystopian governments, it seems conceivable that they'd abolish anything that smacks of religion or those things that can divide rather than bring people groups together. Interesting thing to think about, though.

Ishta Mercurio said...

I agree completely. Holidays and traditions are about bonding; the ceremony perpetuates the bond, but it isn't about the ceremony.

Great post!