Oh! Look What I Found!—Small Town Rituals

Welcome to my new monthly blog post (Oh! Look What I Found!), all about shit I found while researching for some creative project. I do a lot of random digging and searching and connecting to try and flesh out my stories, worlds, and characters. Now, I want to share some of it with you!

(oh! and I started making baguettes. They are delicious!)

Small Town Horror Stories

If you’ve been following me and my blog for the past couple of months, then you know I’m currently drafting my next couple of books. One of which is a vampire book without vampires—or with vampires remixed set in a small, isolated town. Recently my research has led me to dig around the bones of small towns for inspiration on building my own fictional town.

Like vampires, small towns aren’t new to the landscape of gothic horror stories. The latest Mike Flanagan Netflix series Midnight Mass is about vampires in a small isolated sea town. Scream and A Nightmare on Elm Street take place in small and secluded places. Add to that list My Heart is a Chainsaw, Heartbreaker, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, The Stepford Wives.

The list could go on and on. Small towns are filled with secrets and histories begging to be unearthed. So many frights are nestled into the conventions of a small-town horror story: fear of being in a place where civilization can’t reach you; fear you’re at the whims of nature and the people nature has created in her image; fear of being an outsider in a tightknit community; fear of the outside killing the safety of the small and quaint.

Spooky stuff.

A lot of small-town horror tropes are also rooted in the idea that small-town life is dead or vanishing. The small town represents the old ways and the cities are the new. A tale as old as time.

But personally, small towns and isolated places have always called to me. Asked me to lose myself in their embrace. So, that’s the thread I am following with my small-town horror. There is safety and family and home in the small and slow way of life, but there is also intrigue and conflict around creating a place so isolated yet able to last in a modern world. It’s not a new theme to me but one I’ve been shifting and shaping and playing with like a key to a door.

One of my favorite things about small and isolated towns is they often have their own weird rituals or quirks. I’ve had a lot of fun crafting the history and behavior of my town’s inhabitants. I can’t share that stuff just yet, but I can share some of the unique rituals small isolated towns around the world practice.

Unique Small Town Rituals

  1. Kupala Night is when young people dress up wearing wreaths on their head and dance and sing around fires. To test their courage, burn away their sins, and improve their health teens jump over the flames. And to test their love, couples jump over the flames together.
  2. The bear dance calls for people to dress up in bear costumes and pelts to beat back winter.
  3. During the early winter, kukeri put on elaborate, fantastical, and sometimes scary costumes and go out into the village with musicians to act as protectors and guardians against evil spirits.
  4. Frozen Dead Guy Days are death themed festivities and events that happen over the course of a couple days, including coffin races and a gearse parade.
  5. New Year’s possum dropping instead of a bright ball.
  6. Burying a bottle of bourbon before the wedding at the wedding site.

Thanks for swinging by and reading about what I’ve been up to the past couple of weeks. I appreciate it. I’d appreciate it even more if you’d consider subscribing to my blog or checking out some of the books, games, and stories I have available for fans, followers, and readers.

And if you have any interesting rituals unique to your small town or home, I’d love to hear about them. Just drop a comment below and tell me about your rituals and traditions.

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