( for John and Lynette, and the season…)
Mar. It faded on the crowing of the cock.
Some say that ever ’gainst that season comes
Wherein our Saviour’s birth is celebrated,
The bird of dawning singeth all night long;
And then, they say, no spirit can walk abroad;
The nights are wholesome; then no planets strike,
No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,
So hallow’d and so gracious is the time.
- from HAMLET, Act 1, Scene 1, by W. Shakespeare
Lawrence Person: What gave you the idea to write that?
Gene Wolfe: I have to think for a moment. I was reading a book on clowns, and I came across this quotation from Shakespeare about the sacredness of Christmas Eve, and how fairies have no power to wound, no planets strike, meaning this is a reference to astrology, where Saturn and things like that are the evildoers. Saturn enters your astrological house and you have all sorts of troubles, etc. And I thought (laughs) well, isn’t that interesting? Shakespeare felt the aliens could not attack on Christmas Eve.
(from Lawrence Person’s excellent interview with Gene Wolfe)