Many years ago (as a nice story should start), I wrote a book called The Book of Dead Days. I wrote it from a feeling, a feeling that I’d had since I was a child, about why it feels so weird between Christmas and New Year.
When you’re a kid, there’s all that time over the Christmas holidays, and after the excitement of the big day, there’s that strange time until New Year’s Eve, when not much goes on. When I grew up, and worked in publishing (and therefore had even more time off 😉 ) that feeling just got stronger.
It always felt to me like a time outside of time, and I started to think how it might be a book. The Book of Dead Days, a couple and a half hundred pages of running around in snow-covered graveyards, is the result, my take on the Faust legend.
In writing it, and researching ideas around it, I was pleased when to discover that I wasn’t the first person to think these days were different from the others, at least in principle. The Aztecs and the Egyptians both used calendars of 12 months of 30 days, and then added in 5 inter-calendrical days to make up the rest of the year. While these days don’t of course relate to the notion of Christmas itself, they did feel that these days were something out of time, in fact, days of ill omen. And that is a notion found in the Christian canon, since the 28th is Childermass, known as the unluckiest day of the year. Something to do with the slaughter of the innocents…
I still love the days between Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve, and with that time approaching again, it’s time to find something good to read, something warming to drink and to be with the people you love.
Yuletide Greetings to one and all. I have to say that as the heathen in me likes to remember that midwinter festivals go way, way back.