Merry Christmas dear readers.
I did it this time. Here is you promised pre Christmas post. Since I have holidays on the mind, I thought I would write something about the holidays in some of my own writing. Since Lady of Courage is set in an alternate Italian maritime world, it doesn’t have any especially unique holidays. It does begin on Chistmas Eve with a Ball and that’s about it. In contrast, for Girl of the Rumours, I have had to do a fair bit of world building and that includes multiple sets of holiday customs.
Festivals in Verlis and Amra differ quite a bit. In Amra they are community celebrations and times of fun. In verlis they are more solemn. There is some slight religious significance to soem of the festivals, but it has mostly been stripped away. The old folk religions of the countries were never very ritualistic or held strongly and when the new beliefs came, the holidays were all changed.
There is a Harvest End Festival held twelve weeks after the summer solstice. It has a spirit of thanksgiving and rejoicing over the harvest. In Amra is is celebrated by huge markets in all major towns and feasts where ever people are gathered. There will be dancing and various competions or skill. Wrestling, archery, staff fighting, and the like. The celebartions frequently go on for several days. There are musicians playing all of the old and new tales until all hours of the night and religious leaders will take opportunities to speak to the people. Everywhere, the feast will begin with a prayer everyone joins in on and the day before the festival there are often special services in the chapels.
In Verlis, there are no markets and no huge gatherings. Throughout the day you are not to eat any food from the years produce, only that of the previous year. Everyone will give gifts of food to their friends and neighbours as they can afford. It usually will be something they themselves do not grow. If you are giving to those of higher class, the gift must be tasteful and well presented, but will often not be large. The extremely wealthy will often give enormous gifts. Everyone gives what they can to those less fortunate especially as this is a day when they cannot refuse it. The gifts are traditionally given anonymously, though people often know who various gifts are from. The festival ends with a time of solemn reflection at sunset followed by a meal of all new food.
The Spring Festival is held in the middle of planting. It is barely celebrated in Amra. Traditionally it is the time of drinking new milk and letting the animals out to graze in the mountains. However, no one waits for a particular day to come if the conditions are right and there is little mention of it these days. The remnant of the festival is the wearing of flowers and the dancing of the girls of each town. It is also common practice to plant herbs on this day. Prayers will be offered for a good growing season.
In Verlis, the prayers have a much greater emphasis. Everyone gathers and prays all day. The prayer are usually not just for a good planting and harvest, but for any need. In recent and not so recent years, the prayers have been for peace, for safety. Is is the one day of the year that a large portion on the population prays anything than ritualistic form prayers.
A few significant events in Girl of the Rumours happen on these festivals. Aydel dances with Nylf at the Harvest End Festival in the town of Jarrah. He tells her something that changes her life. To finish up the day, they get chased by guards and she meets Wil, Elind and Mim. (Who all happen to have an ‘i’ in their names. Funny that.)
Towards the end of the story, someone takes advantage of the Spring Festival’s distraction to further his own plans. That, put simply, wasn’t not a time the prayers for peace we answered. Not that day.
I feel that there ought to be more holidays. Something like Passover or Christmas. They haven’t come up yet and I don’t know if they will. I believe they differ between the different church branches and never became huge public celebrations. Passover would be close to the Harvest End Festival in timing. Christmas could be mid-summer, but given we do not know an actual date for Christs birth, they don’t not in most part have any celebration other than that of the new year.
There are also festivals and holidays in the neighbouring nation of the Dlinaat. The culture in entirely differnt, and the festivals have a great deal to do with their main religion. They worship the sea, or a sea god of some kind, or just simple water. It has all gotten rather mixed up over the long existence of their civilization. The migration from islands to dry plain has been a major factor in the development of the current rituals. Very few people In Verlis or Amra are familiar with their customs and I haven’t learnt the Dlinaat language yet, so I cannot study directly from the source.
It is also rumoured that there is a separate Dlinaat group who’s beliefs and practices are very reminiscent of Christianity. It seems they are the product of the knowledge of the way spreading along many paths. They do not mix with foreigners any more than the rest of the population, so they are few facts, but it is believed they celebrate Christmas. Because at least one group out there has to.
I have probably made this a little confusing. Is this our world or not? Truth be told, I haven’t quite figure that out. it’s some kind of alternate universe. Some major things are the same. Other parts of geography and history are entirely scrambled. I may end arranging things to make in entirely different as it changes more each time I think about it, but I haven’t reached that level yet.
This is likely my last post for the year so until next time, have a joyous Christmas and a blessed New Year.