Autumnal Equinox – Turning Day
Turning Day isn’t really New Year’s Day. It’s considered to be between the years, not a part of the either. Magically, this is the most powerful day, and many rituals are performed on Turning Day.
Humans celebrate Turning Day with feasting and drinking, music and dancing, storytelling and games. They’ll do this at most festivals. Or at any time there is a reason to celebrate. For Turning Day, most humans have a symbolic house cleaning. The old broom is burned, and a new one is used to sweep the entire house. This represents the sweeping away of old troubles. Any wards or other spells on or in the house are broken and renewed. Families and friends symbolically break and renew their bonds. Relationships that have ended are formally broken, usually by breaking a clay pot the pieces of which are then buried. Formal goodbyes are given to loved ones who have died in the preceding year. The intent is to resolve all old issues and not carry them into the new year. Where this isn’t possible, it symbolizes a fresh start to the old problem.
Dwarves are more solemn. Most Dwarves attend a clan gathering on Turning Day. The clan history is recited in rhythmic chant, accompanied by drums and sometimes woodwinds. Although most of the chant covers only the most significant events, the last stanza details the previous year. Families often have a similar observance, reflecting on the family’s past, and considering the future.
Gnomes think of Turning Day as Accounting Day. This isn’t about money, though monetary accounts are included. This is about social standing. Alliances are reconsidered; personal debts are called due or confirmed; old bonds are broken and new bonds formed. Many marriages take place on Turning Day. Also, there is a general accounting of the house itself: what repairs need to be done in the coming year; what furnishings need to be repaired or replaced; what improvements the family can make. After sundown, when Turning Day is officially done and the new year officially begun, then there is wild celebration, with feasting and drinking, music and dancing, and often bloodshed as old alliances are publicly dissolved and new ones confirmed.
Most elvish communities spend the day in contemplation and meditation. Much like the dwarves, they give considerable time to reminiscence and reflection. Like the gnomes, they take stock of the household and decide what needs to be replaced, what needs to be repaired, and what needs to be done to prepare for the coming winter.
Winter Solstice – Feasting Day
In Devanand, the winter solstice is the first Transition Day of the Year. It’s generally called Feasting Day and celebrations are marked by, well, a lot of feasting. For many people, the last fresh fruits and vegetables are eaten on the day. From now until the next harvest, any fruits and most vegetables will be canned or dried. Until spring, much of the meat and fish eaten will be smoked or jerked.
In Mahday, the feasting typically includes venison and rabbit, candied sweet potatoes, baked apples, candied nuts, breads and cakes, and copious amounts of ale. In Jarayu, the centerpiece of the table is pit-roasted giant sand snake. The table will also include roasted fish and crocodile; candied oranges, dates, and almonds; honey, soft cheeses, and a variety of breads; and date wine.
Besides the feasting, there is music, singing, dancing, storytelling, and games. Many places hold storytelling contests. Ghost stories, cautionary tales, and frightening fairy tales are customary, so the winner of such a contest is the one who most frightens the audience. Prizes are usually preserved foods such as jams, jellies, and smoked meat. Honey is also often awarded, especially in Kerani where it is a rare delicacy for most people.
This work by Jean Headley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.