Massively-multiplayer online role-playing games are known for the sheer volume of activities contained within, and the hugely popular Final Fantasy XIV (FFXIV for short) is no exception. In FFXIV, players have plenty of things to do besides fighting monsters and completing quests: they can coordinate outfits, go fishing, craft their own clothing and items, start a farm, play mahjong, and so much more. The game celebrated its 10th anniversary at the end of August, and with new updates every few months, one could spend years playing and never run out of things to do.
One of FFXIV’s most beloved features is the ability to acquire and decorate housing for your avatar character. The game has a host of furnishings and yard decorations that players can place wherever they’d like, and every few months more furniture options are added to keep things fresh. Entire communities have sprung up around this side pursuit, leveraging different items in unique ways to make innovative room designs.
While there are a bevy of ready-made seasonal furnishings for Christian holidays (or “Starlight” and “Hatchingtide,” as Christmas and Easter are called in Eorzea), if one wants to decorate for the Jewish holidays, the pickings are nonexistent. This isn’t particularly surprising—FFXIV takes place in a fantasy world, and while Starlight and Hatchingtide were inspired by their real-world holiday counterparts, the developers are under no obligation to include Jewish items in a world that doesn’t have an analog to Judaism. I also wouldn’t expect a Japanese company to devote resources to catering to the very, very small slice of players who are Jewish. This is, unfortunately, a state of affairs I’m very used to as a Jewish gamer.
But even without ready-made decorations for Hanukkah and Passover, players can still decorate for their own holidays if they’re willing to get a little creative.
Last December, desperate to decorate my character’s new house for a holiday I actually celebrate, I cobbled together a menorah using three candelabras and three crystal displays. While it didn’t exactly adhere to the menorah rules (the candles were all on different heights, and the shamesh wasn’t clearly separate from the others) it did have 9 candles, and with the candelabras’ bases hidden, it passed as a single fixture. It also looked very lovely with the lights off.
As the months passed, I didn’t think much about decorating for other Jewish holidays. Putting a makeshift menorah up at Christmastime was a particularly needed show of defiance that other holidays didn’t necessarily warrant, and I had many other pursuits to fill my time in the game. When Sukkot came on the horizon, though, I was standing in my character’s front yard and had an idea. One of the outdoor furnishings I have in her yard is a La Noscean Grape Pergola, a triangular structure with a roof of leaves and hanging grapes and lights. Looking at it, I thought—could I arrange a few of these into a sukkah?
While it wouldn’t be hard to acquire a few more pergolas, my character’s front yard is short on both physical space and item slots. To bring my vision to life, I decided to head to Island Sanctuary—my character’s private island, where I’d have tons of yard space and a high item limit to work with. The Island Sanctuary game mode also has a feature where you can “clone” housing items from your inventory just for use on your island; it meant I could just bring the pergola from my front yard and clone it without having to pony up extra gil.
I gleefully set to work arranging the pergolas, more interested in seeing if my idea would work than finding a sensible or aesthetic spot for my sukkah. I had originally envisioned three pergolas in a sort of L shape, but quickly realized that using four arranged into two squares would make it much closer to the real thing.
I moved my Camping Furniture item inside, and it started to look very sukkah-like—but as required by Jewish law, it needed some walls. Luckily, a Bamboo Fence item added in a recent patch looked like just the thing.
The Bamboo Fence ran me about 900 gil; mere pocket change in in-world money. For a Sukkot miracle, it was exactly the right size to serve as siding for my sukkah (the Lattice Planter I had also considered for walls wasn’t quite tall or wide enough). By the time I hit this stage the in-game clock had changed to night, and the pergolas’ party lights had come on. I was practically giddy seeing how perfectly it was coming together.
The green walls didn’t quite look sukkah-y enough, but luckily, that was something in my power to change. Another feature of FFXIV’s housing system is the ability to change the color of certain furnishings using consumable “dyes”. You can preview what each color dye will look like on your items, and I decided to go for a dark brown to match the existing brown of the pergolas.
And with that, the sukkah was complete!!
Back in December, the makeshift menorah felt like a concession. Like a “it’s not perfect, but this is the best I can do”. It felt like it was waiting for additional items to be released that would make it more closely resemble a real menorah.
My Final Fantasy Sukkah has no such concessions. It’s easily identifiable as a sukkah. It’s halachically sound, it’s big enough to dwell in, and it’s warm and inviting!
The only stretch I had to make was for the arba minim—obviously there’s no lulav or etrog items in the game. I instead used a White Mage weapon called Mistilteinn, which does resemble some branches wrapped together (though they aren’t strictly speaking the correct ones).
While digitally decorating for other Jewish holidays might still pose a challenge, I’m glad I was able to make a sukkah in my favorite game. Working at a synagogue doesn’t always leave me with the time or energy to build my own sukkah in real life, but being able to make one that I can share with my friends around the world feels just as rewarding.
Check out more pictures of my virtual sukkah below! (click to embiggen)