Official High Holidays of the Kingdom of Kormyre
April - St. Astrid’s Day: The Andorran holiday of St. Astrid’s Day occurs each year on the 9th of April. On this day, priests of Andorra emulate the wandering Andorran monk St. Astrid, taking to the roads to seek young couples looking to be wed. Andorrans are not fools about love, however, and do not seek to arrange marriages or manipulate feelings, and instead act as facilitators for love already blossoming. Lay followers often exchange roses or sweet cakes in commemoration, as a symbol of love and affection for family, friends, and lovers.
May – Springtide: Gaia’s most anticipated holiday is that of Springtide, or the Festival of Rebirth, which typically occurs the first week of May, or soon after the last crops have been planted. Springtide is a time for celebrating the completion of these agrarian tasks, and an ushering in of the season, in which Gaian clergy and laypeople perform rites heralding in the new for the old. It is a time of refreshment, for things become musty, unused, and in disrepair during the long winter months, as well as a time of rejuvenation which will be much needed in the work that lies ahead. Many traditions accompany it, including the cleaning out of one’s home and the donation of excess things to those in need, so that what was old to one is now new to another. An old tradition of the May Pole is sometimes followed, and fresh flowers are worn and strewn about in decoration. Throughout the celebration, many follow a superstition of repeating the phrase “Gaia Bless” as they pass through thresholds, along with the performance of a simple hand gesture of sweeping the fingers of the right hand outward from the upper torso in a circular motion, as a request for blessings in all new beginnings.
August – Valos’ Rest: Sometime in mid-August, varying each year according to astrological calculation, falls a series of three Church holidays in honor of Valos’ marriage to Andorra. The first, Almsday, is a day of penance in which clergy men and women travel door to door seeking donations of food and coin for the church. While it holds significance as a day of humility, more realistically it funds the celebrations to come. The second, the Day of Accordance, is a reverent celebration of the actual marriage of Valos to Andorra, which is often reenacted symbolically by members of the clergy and followed by a prayer vigil throughout the night. But while the first two holidays are honored closely within the Church itself, it is the third holiday, Valos’ Rest, that is most prevalently celebrated by the common folk of Kormyre. Commemorating the joyful period of time following the marriage of Valos and Andorra, Valos’ Rest is a day where all menial labor is put on hold, grudges and grievances are forgiven and great jubilation and feasting takes place – often provided in part by the donations made to the church two days before. Because Valos’ symbol is that of the sun and of light, a great oil lamp is lit upon the altar of Valos and left lit all day, so that laypeople may come, light their own candles from its flame, and return it back to their own oil lamps at home. There, each home leaves that one oil lamp burning, and it is said celebrations will continue until the light grows dim. Tables of food are spread out for all to share, and bonfires are often lit to keep the festivities going long into the night.
October – All Hallow’s Eve/Halajh’awen/Galladell’s Watch: Late in the month of October, a similar holiday is celebrated by the human races of Arawyn in various ways. In Kormyre, it has long been believed with fear and anticipation that it is at this time that the veil between the realms of the living and the dead thins, allowing the spirits of those lost, for better or for worse, to interact with those they have left behind. To wave away this frightening possibility, this holiday is typically spent in celebration of lost loved ones with good food and stories, and followers of Galladell watch over the graveyards with extra vigor. In Khitan, pumpkins are carved with fearful visages to scare away the ghosts and ghouls that may approach, and a tradition began amongst the Gypsies in which candy and small trinkets are left out and given as gifts to visitors in order to ward off the evil eye. For the Bedouins, the day commemorates an ancient victory, and they dress in scary or horrifying costumes, eating candied brains and various sweets and foods set out for them, decorating their tents with the heads of fake skeletons to symbolize the undead enemies they had once defeated. However practiced, this macabre holiday is one of all-too-present danger veiled in a mask of celebration, leaving guardsmen edgy and parents over protective of children that are often far too fascinated by its mysterious allure.
December/January – Yule/Winter Solstice: Throughout late December and early January, peoples across Kormyre, and in more recent years throughout many of the other humanoid kingdoms, celebrate the winter festival of Yule. Full of traditions whose origins are more or less lost to time, Yule is a celebration of brotherhood, togetherness, and triumph against all odds even in the midst of the harshest season of the year. While many practices have come to be associated with Yule from throughout the many cultures of Arawyn, three primary aspects stand out as most distinctive. The first is the particular style of decoration, which includes the use of pine and holly garlands and wreaths, ribbons and bows of red, green, silver and gold, and the traditional burning of the Yule Log. The second is in the great feasting that occurs, which consists of rich foods suitable for the winter months, and the use of warm spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Hearty wines, ales, and mulled ciders are popular as well. The third most distinctive practice is that of the exchange of gifts between friends and family. Often these take the form of freshly baked cookies and other sweets, but can really be anything at all. Farther north, towards the Highlands and the Barbarian lands, a traditional wild hunt is frequently performed, usually for a great boar or stag, which is then served as part of a large feast to the entire community. Because it falls so closely in line with the Winter Solstice, Druids, where present, are known to perform their own rites during this festival as well.
Assorted Holidays Celebrated by the Other Cultures of Arawyn
Quinyarian/Selandrias – Keryth’rina (Memorium): On February 20th of each year, both Sylvan and High Elves reverently reflect upon the Old Age, and the fall of the Elven Kingdom at the hands of Uelrog and his armies. It is said over half of the large population of Elves were massacred that day, and candles are lit in remembrance of not only those deaths, but all civilian deaths that have occurred due to war and conflict.
Gaaldron - Zratok-Anorr: Roughly translated as ‘Triumph of Unification’, this yearly July holiday celebrates the rise of the Hobgoblin race and the unification of the various goblinoid clans into a single, victorious empire. Militant fanfares and parades, feats of strength and skill, sacrifices to Enax, and gladiatorial combat commemorate this jubilant weeklong affair, which to outsiders may appear to culminate in government-sanctioned bloodshed and violence but to the natives is merely fun and games.
Calasvorin – Daradrim’s Stand: One of the most boisterous holidays celebrated by Dwarves occurs on the 12th of September. Celebrating the victorious defeat of the invading Gaaldron army during the Great War of 1052 and the triumphant heroics of the Great Rotra Daradrim, Daradrim’s Stand is a rousing holiday full of ale, storytelling, and raucous games. The festivities begin the night before, known as Victory’s Eve, with the drinking of several pints and the traditional retelling of the great battle that ensued as told by the eldest Dwarf present. It is not uncommon for this story to be embellished, or for the story to be dramatically different with each retelling, but no one ever seems to mind and for the most part all will agree that that is the way in which the events occurred. If someone does disagree, which is quite possible with the amount of alcohol being consumed, the correct telling will be determined by some sort of contest of strength, most likely arm wrestling. The celebrations continue into the night, and begin again as soon as the first dwarf arises from her drunken stupor. Accompanied by more stories, feasting and drinking, the night traditionally ends with the telling of a more recent victory in battle, to be added as part of the community’s particular commemoration of the day.
The Hobbits - Feasting Day: While Hobbits rarely need an excuse for partying and eating delicious foods, individuals and communities will occasionally declare what they call a ‘Feasting Day’ to celebrate any manner of events and occurrences. Usually a spur of the moment decision, requiring a flurry of activity, baking, cooking and decorating in a short amount of time, Feasting Days are spaced out throughout the year according to a logic only the Hobbits themselves quite understand in a way that never seems to tax the community. Feasting Days will never occur in conjunction with any other communally recognized holiday, as it is believed they best serve as a time of reprieve when there is no other reason to celebrate save for the celebration itself
-Compiled from First-Hand Accounts by the Madame Beatrice Harpenstock, Curator of Londwyn’s Palmydian Museum of Culture and Self-Professed Expert in the Study of Arawyn’s Races, Philologies, Mythologies and Superstitions.
Penned on December 28th, 1208