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World of Warcraft has clearly many things to do for the avid adventurer. But for every day you log in to the same npcs carrying on their business there happens a those rare events that bring everyone together despite faction ties or the looming threat of a big bad around the corner. These events are holidays.
Holidays are not like the random one time worlds event that have people fighting an incoming threat (like the push for the war effort for the opening of Ahn'Qiraj or fighting undead prior to the Wrath expansion) but are events that are made to be light and festive. Simply, realm wide holidays are events that bring the whole server together to celebrate World of Warcraft's version of real world events through the lens of the Horde and the Alliance.
Now, some people out there are probably going and? Holidays usually give the server certain flair, allowing for silly if downright absurd things to happen for an otherwise depressive state of affairs. After having your land torn apart by a cranky dragon, why not do something silly?
But there is a point to most holidays.
Dailies = $$$
Most of the yearly holidays come with their own set of dailies, most of which can be done by any one, even level 1s. The dailies net you easy experience, money and tokens that can be used to purchase festival specific gear. Some of these quests also net you main faction reputation off the bat, so everyone gains from doing them.
Also in some holidays, people who are industrious can farm mats like owl eggs pre holiday, then post them up during on the auction house for extra gold. Or make holiday foods and outfits (from mailed paterns) to sell as many of these itemscontribute to other achievements.
Rare items galore.
In doing event related quests for tokens, access to purchasing rare mounts, pets, and even outfits among other things is opened up to a player. Outfits can be used for those down times in raids, or for more flavor in future role playing. For those avid pet and mount collectors this is a way to gain achievements in both those categories. Speaking of…
Achievement spam, anyone?
Most world holidays have a set of actions that count as achievements. Doing them all nets a player a larger achievement usually ending in a new title to wear. Doing the quests and often hilarious tasks will net achievements not just for the event itself, but also start on the larger meta achievement call 'What A Long, Strange Trip It's Been' which at the end rewards a flying mount.