I was recently surprised to discover that July 4th was next week. I’ve lost track of time yet again. I have no plans, mostly because it’s hot this time of year.

But holidays are a part of any setting. I was researching Catalonia (while waiting on the car guys to fix my car) a few days ago and ran into this terrifying statistic:

“The working year was interrupted by a plethora of official and religious holidays, one hundred and twenty in all….”
(Robert Hughes, Barcelona)

Seriously? 120 holidays?! This is about as UN-American as it gets.

Now, given that 52 of those were Sundays, that’s not as bad as it could be. But if you take the remaining 68, you end up with at least one extra holiday per week. Businesses closed, and people in Barcelona formed castells and had big parties.
(This is what they do at their festivals. I don’t know why. But they do it.)

So what does this have to do with me as a writer?

Well, my characters are in Portugal and Spain in early summer. That time of year is rife with religious festivals, many of which involve parades and street parties. So this time of year, there’s a better-than-2/7s chance it will be a day off work and the streets will be packed with revelers…


So between this draft and the second, I will have to set the date for each scene, and then determine whether I’ve set the scene amidst a festival. This may turn out to be a problem, or it could turn out to be helpful. Only time will tell.

(The first two books were set in October, which is a time with a dearth of festivals. The only one in the books (All Saints Day) occurs November 1…but is a big deal.)


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