Larísa made a post about how she was somewhat disappointed by the lack of activities related to the Harvest Festival. I commented on her post saying that I actually appreciate the fact that it's a very low-key holiday, but I wanted to elaborate a bit on the whys and hows on my own blog.
What are holidays in real life? Theoretically you take some time off from your everyday routine to think about something important: memorable historical events, important people in your life, things you can be grateful for. Sounds good, right? In practice however, this ideal is nowadays often overshadowed by commercial interests and artificially created social pressure to act in certain ways during the holidays. Valentine's Day is less about appreciating your loved one and more about buying flowers and chocolates. Christmas is less about quiet contemplation and giving thanks and more about who can buy the biggest and most expensive gifts.
WoW holidays are actually very similar in that regard. In the past they were events that just offered a bit of food for thought and extra activity based on the game's lore. Visiting the elders during the Lunar Festival comes to mind, or doing Winter Veil quests. However, with the introduction of the achievement system a lot of this has become overshadowed by the idea of making people engage in sometimes quite arbitrary activities related to the holiday just to get achievement points. Would anybody have sat around in "rabbit form" in Un'goro crater if it wasn't for Hard Boiled for example?
The worst thing about this is that some of these holiday achievements are pretty poorly designed and almost guaranteed to cause frustration. School of Hard Knocks comes to mind, with its requirement to sabotage your own team, or Be Mine! with the related pressure to log on once every hour just to beat the random number generator. Even the relatively harmless Brewfest isn't completely innocent, what with the countless daily ram races that are required to get enough tokens for all the achievements.
If you want to participate in a WoW holiday, you have to look at its achievements. If you want to get those achievements, you have to dedicate a considerable amount of time to strange grinds of all kinds for the duration of the event. I won't deny that some of it is fun, just like exchanging presents for Christmas can be fun, but there's also this really weird sense of pressure that I really don't like to see associated with what should be time off from the everyday grind (instead of an extra grind to add to your list).
When I first spotted the Harvest Festival on the in-game calendar I actually panicked a little because I confused it with Pilgrim's Bounty and was wondering how I was supposed to find the time to finish all the Brewfest stuff while simultaneously working on the next event already. So when I found out that actually Harvest Festival is something else entirely and really just a time to chill out, eat some free food and honour fallen heroes I was extremely relieved and pleased. No pressure, just a bit of relaxation and fun. Maybe I just feel that way because I generally don't do gifts for Christmas either.
Anyway, here's to you, Grom Hellscream!