- "This holiday is yours, but we all share with you the hope that this day brings us closer to freedom, and to harmony, and to peace. No matter how different we appear, we're all the same in our struggle against the powers of evil and darkness. I hope that this day will always be a day of joy in which we can reconfirm our dedication and our courage. And more than anything else, our love for one another. This is the promise of the Tree of Life."
- ―Princess Leia Organa
Life Day was a Wookiee holiday celebrated by the inhabitants of Kashyyyk every three years. It was a celebration of the planet's diverse ecosystem and the many forms of life it encompassed. It also was a time to remember family members who had died, and the young ones who continued to bring new life to a family. Life Day was a sacred holiday, and many Wookiees considered it their duty to return to Kashyyyk in order to celebrate it. Life Day was held once every three local years for many generations, but during the Galactic Civil War, its importance to the Wookiees became more pronounced. Wookiees were spread across the galaxy, either because they had been enslaved by the Galactic Empire or for personal reasons, and they began celebrating Life Day each year as a way to remain in touch with their history. Over time, the holiday found its way into various other cultures. "Life day" was also used as a term to describe the anniversary of one's birth.
- "This disgraceful menace of a "holiday", during which time you are expected to comply fully with this edict, will last approximately two weeks on the Galactic Standard Calendar."
- ―Extract from the Imperial Edict GR-1NC4
The origins of Life Day lay in the culture of the Wookiees, the sentient mammals who hailed from the arboreal world of Kashyyyk, with evidence that the holiday was celebrated as early as 1,500,000 BBY. Originally a triennial event, it later evolved into an annual celebration. However, the tradition of exchanging gifts and decorating the houses during Life Day had already spread to other parts of the wider galaxy by the end of the Cold War around 3640 BBY. At that time, holographic Life Day trees could even be found on Coruscant, capital city of the Galactic Republic. A mysterious merchant calling himself the "Master of Ceremonies" showed up at both the Republic's Carrick Station and the Empire's Vaiken Spacedock, along with an entourage of Life Day Revelers—made of Humans and Wookiees. While the Republic welcomed the Master and his followers without issue, Imperial Edict GR-1NC4 heavily discouraged Imperial citizens from participation in Life Day. The edict also noted that the Revelers' presence coincided with the reappearance of the Gray Secant, an ancient Gree starship, over the planet Ilum—which marked the return of the once powerful Gree Enclave to known space. At any rate, the anti-Life Day edict was widely ignored, and some Imperial citizens indulged in snowball fights.
From the Clone Wars onEdit
- "Bah, humbug!"
- ―Emperor Palpatine on Life Day
Thousands of years later, at the time of Clone Wars, Life Day was celebrated at the main Jedi Temple on Coruscant at least once. The hallowed halls of the temple were decorated with garlands and colored Life Day orbs hanging from the ceiling. A Life Day tree had been place, service droids bore festive paintings and even some of the clone troopers patrolling the premises donned fancy armors—such as the nutcracker armor.
By 1 ABY the celebration of Life Day had become fairly consistent in major non-Kashyyykian population centers like Theed and Coronet, capital cities of Naboo and Corellia respectively. That year, the Alliance to Restore the Republic had embraced Life Day as an opportunity for anti-Imperial propaganda. Spacers affiliated with the Alliance would decorate large numbers of trees throughout cities across the known universe. The Empire, through nominally independent intermediaries, recruited loyal citizens to destroy presents placed around the very same cities, believing the gifts to be contraband smuggled by the Alliance. The competition between Imperial and Rebel-aligned spacers would sometimes escalate to acts of public violence, but residents of the three main target cities of Dearic, Wayfar, and Doaba Guerfel seemed completely unfazed by these events. Emperor Palpatine himself, the very leader of the Empire, harbored disgust for the holiday, which he considered "humbug."
- "A big part of their Life Day celebration is a spiritual passage to the Life Tree... where Wookiee culture began! Orga root helps them make the journey!"
- ―Han Solo about the role of orga roots
In its deepest meaning, that holiday comemorated the renewal of life on Kashyyyk, a planet that supported a rich biodiversity. An important part of the celebration consisted in a spiritual passage; by chewing roots of the orga plant, the Wookiees would journey in spirit form and join the essence of the Tree of Life. According to the legends, that most ancient tree had been the starting point of the Wookiee civilization. Were the orga roots lacking, the Wookiee Elders were entitled to cancel the holiday.
At the same time, Life Day was also a time to remember the departed and spend quality time with one's family in its broader, Wookiee sense—the honor family comprised a Wookiee's boon companions and best friends, all of them pledging a life debt for one another.
Beyond its more serious aspects, Life Day was also a day of revelry and merry-making. Such joyous activities included trimming a special tree, launching fireworks, consuming treats like Wookiee-ookiees and Hoth chocolate, and listening to festive music. The exchange of presents was central ritual and a symbol of love. At night, Wookiee households would gather around their table while holding hands before pausing for a moment of silent prayer.
Singing was another important part of the Life Day customs. Traditional Life Day songs included "Christmas Green," "Here We Come A-Wassailing," "Jolly Old Saint Nicholas," "Joyful and Triumphant," and "Swingalong Santa." In 1 ABY, the famous Bith band Figrin D'an and the Modal Nodes gave a special Life Day concert beneath the branches of the Tree of Life. More importantly, Life Day had its emblematic song, known in Basic as "Tree of Life," which put emphasis on peace, harmony and freedom.
Behind the scenesEdit
Wookiee Life Day made its first appearance in the 1978 television film The Star Wars Holiday Special. In the special, Chewbacca's wife Mallatobuck prepares a feast of Bantha rump, gifts are exchanged between acquaintances, candles are burned ritualistically, and Wookiees don red robes and join into groups to observe the day. Singing is also involved. The red robes the Wookiees were wearing at the end of the special were to cover up the lack of Wookiee costumes beyond the masks (which were Don Post brand) due to the special by that point going massively overbudget.
In the 1979 Russ Manning newspaper comic strip The Kashyyyk Depths, the regular cast of A New Hope once again returned to Kashyyyk for another Life Day celebration.
In the video game Star Wars Galaxies, players are given the opportunity to explore the Wookiee holiday. Its customs are more thoroughly explored, and the player is encouraged to celebrate the holiday around the Human month of December. The creators of the game first officially recognized the holiday as an in-game holiday in December 2003. The official site for Star Wars Galaxies devotes an entire page to explaining this unique feature of the game.Life Day Gifts are given to players, one to keep, and another to give to a friend. In preparation for the game's 2008 Life Day celebrations, some of the developers watched The Star Wars Holiday Special in its entirety, as much of the Life Day content is directly inspired by the special.
The term was mentioned again in X-Wing: Starfighters of Adumar by Wedge Antilles. In that context, it was not capitalized, and the term seemed to be implied as a "Star Wars-ism" for birthday. It is also used in this capacity in Galaxy of Fear: The Doomsday Ship. (See: Bobringi Mafusa.)
Note that Life Day most likely was originally intended as a stand-in for the American holiday of Thanksgiving, as The Holiday Special was originally aired on November 17, the Friday before Thanksgiving that year. However, over time the term "holiday special" has caused most fans to misinterpret Life Day as a stand-in for Christmas instead, leading to games like Star Wars Galaxies and Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron to place Life Day on December 25. This is partly because after the initial U.S. airing in November, The Holiday Special aired in December in other countries, where Thanksgiving is not observed and Christmas is the closest equivalent.
The confusion has reached the point where George Lucas himself has referred to The Star Wars Holiday Special as the "Christmas special", and many who have not seen the special incorrectly remember Life Day as having Star Wars versions of Christmas carols (conflating The Holiday Special with Christmas in the Stars), Christmas decorations, and so on. Such elements have, in fact, been introduced after the special, mostly by Star Wars Galaxies, with wroshyr trees decorated to resemble Christmas trees, and Figrin D'an and the Modal Nodes playing tunes to Christmas carols. Perhaps in response to this, stomptokyo.com created a false rumor about a sequel to The Holiday Special specifically designed to be a Christmas special, taking place on the snowy planet Hoth with Darth Tyranus dressed as Santa Claus.
The canonical date for the observance of Life Day has, nevertheless, been established in what sources there are as December 25, or the equivalent thereof in the Wookiee calendar. Whether this means that Life Day actually is intended to be understood as a solstice festival akin to Christmas as opposed to a harvest festival akin to Thanksgiving is unknown. Neither concept seems to hold much relevance on Kashyyyk, which appears to have temperate weather throughout the year (including on the Life Day we see in The Holiday Special) and where agriculture seems to be little practiced.
On a semi-related note, on the Star Wars Galaxies website hosted by Sony, Emperor Palpatine says "Bah, humbug!" with implied disgust for the holiday, a reference to Ebeneezer Scrooge regarding his views on Christmas in Charles Dickens' book A Christmas Carol.
Pop culture referencesEdit
- Life Day was mentioned in The Venture Bros. episode "A Very Venture Christmas".
- In issue #121 of ToyFare magazine, the "Twisted Toyfare Theater" section is devoted exclusively to The Star Wars Holiday Special, with Lumpy questioning Chewbacca about Life Day, and Chewbacca responding that he should look it up on Wookieepedia.
- The ending of the song "Merry Christmas From Cell Block 2" by Matthew Ebel has his robot companion Proto wishing him a "Happy Life Day." This discrepancy was noticed by Ebel and was quickly corrected to "Merry Christmas."
- Near the end of the year—during the holidays—StarWars.com has often wished its readers a happy Life Day.
In Star Wars Galaxies, there were events from 2004-2011 that dealt with Life Day. Life Day-themed paintings were issued each year, with 2004 having the Life Day Kashyyyk, Matriarch, and Patriarch paintings; 2005 having the Memories Past, Pilgrimage, Triumph paintings; 2006 having the Gift giving Wookiees, Kashyyyk at night, Proud Wookiee, Red Robed Wookiee, and Wookiee with pups paintings; 2007 having the Ancient Life Day painting; 2008 having the Family Bonds painting; and 2009 having both a reissuing of Family Bonds and the issuing of the Life Day 2009 Painting.
- Star Wars: The Old Republic
- Star Wars: The Old Republic: Galactic Strongholds (Mentioned only)
- Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures video game
- Death Troopers (Mentioned only)
- Rebel Dawn (Mentioned only)
- The Star Wars Holiday Special (First appearance)
- The Kashyyyk Depths
- Galaxy of Fear: The Doomsday Ship
- Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided
- Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron (Mentioned only)
- X-Wing: Starfighters of Adumar (Mentioned only)
- The New Jedi Order: Enemy Lines II: Rebel Stand (Mentioned only)
- X-Wing: Mercy Kill (Mentioned only)
- LEGO Star Wars: The Padawan Menace
- Always count your clones before take-off (Mentioned only)
- The Return of Tag & Bink: Special Edition (Mentioned only)
- Menace of the Sith
- Star Wars: Tiny Death Star (Mentioned only) (as L-day)
Notes and referencesEdit
- Life Day on CWA Wiki
- Life Day on SWG Wiki
- "Celebrating Life Day"
- Star Wars Galaxies Celebrates Wookie Life Day [sic] - Article at Gaming Today
- Celebrating Life Day - Article at the official Star Wars Galaxies website.