Christmas is coming, and with the human race spread out on over five hundred planets there are a variety of different traditional celebrations.
One of the most interesting is found on Greenworld. This is an unusual planet, as Jane explains to Ian Sinclair:
Sinclair turned to lean against the huge curved viewing window. ‘Any particular problems?’
‘Only my mother. Not only has she failed to grasp that I’m in Space Fleet now, and I’m not going to come home for good and settle down—but she’s also failed to grasp that colonised space isn’t just Mercia. Did I tell you what happened when I tried to talk to her about Greenworld?’
Sinclair’s eyes closed for a moment. ‘Eastern side and well in towards the galactic core. Isn’t there something odd about its orbit?’
Jane nodded. ‘No axial tilt to speak of—it doesn’t have any seasons. There’s a temperate belt round the equator which is populated, then it shades off into darker and gloomier forests as you head for the poles. The trees grow with no annual rings which makes the wood an expensive rarity. I’d managed to scrounge a little bit of the grainless timber and showed it to her. She as good as called me a liar.’
Living on Greenworld can be a little confusing. Every day is the same length and the weather hardly changes through the year. Because of this the Greenworlders make a huge issue of Christmas. Parties can go on for three or four days and meals take up an entire afternoon. Of course the date of Christmas has nothing to do with the Greenworld year, they use dates based on Old Earth’s calendar. The Greenworlders have also absorbed a lot of other cultures’ traditions, so Father Christmas has joined with Grandfather Frost and dons blue robes to hand out presents. St Lucy visits during the late afternoon but instead of candles her costume is alive with as many small lights as can be contrived by an engineer with nothing to do in the evening.
Greenworld Christmas is a wonderful experience, even if it can be overwhelming the first time.