The Rhythm of Year's End

Traditions abound. Traditions connect us with our past, with the memories of family and society. Some make sense, and some have been shuffled to the back of the relevance pile as we've moved away from the tradition's origin.
Change is the only constant in life.
                  - Heraclitus
But that's the struggle, isn't it? We pit the way it's always been vs. constant change. We hold on to our culture and holidays, even when that culture no longer functions. Even when the holidays that came from a specific world are celebrated in space, or on an alien world with endless days and nights.

It makes me wonder if a colony on Mars will celebrate Christmas.

Now here we are at All Hallows Eve. Samhain. The end of harvest, and in some traditions the end of the year. We celebrate in our own ways: dressing in costumes, consuming pumpkin beer, begging neighbors for candy, talking to trees, doing homework, or sitting in quiet contemplation as we in the Northern Hemisphere pass into the dormant cycle and start planning for spring.

It's a time for putting the past year to rest as we wait for our blanket of snow to tuck us in for hibernation.

I try to walk outside after dark and wish the trees a happy new year. I'm not sure anyone else does that, but it works for me. I take a little time to reflect and to wish us well on the next orbit around the sun. When Halloween falls in the middle of the work week, it's harder to make time.

Life goes on. Work doesn't stop. Modern society still makes the same demands on our time, but in winter we only have half the daylight to work with. We want to sleep, and yet our chosen industries want us to put in extra effort to meet our year-end goals.

And the struggle continues. We've moved beyond agrarianism, but we're still tied to the rhythms of the planet. The only change is our perception of it: Seasonal Affective Disorder expresses our bodies' earthbound rhythms, but modern medicine can overcome that now. But should we engage in chemical warfare against what we have always been?

If human bodies are tied to the planet's cycles so deeply, isn't our physiology the way things have "always been" and our societal demands the "constant change"? Who fights on the side of Tradition now?

Let's bring this into game terms and think about the ramifications of this idea for your game world.

How old is your in-game society? What aspects of your game's society remain the way they have always been? Do those constant traditions spring from physiology, environment, or society? What forces of change challenge those traditions? How does that struggle express itself during play? Are the PCs involved? What happens if PCs work for both sides of the struggle?

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