Building The Gulf of False Hope, Part 5: Holidays and the Moons

This is a post about the Gulf I had been meaning to do for a WHILE (since august of last year), and if nothing else, this being done will make this Post a day challenge worth it.  This builds on the Part 3 of my Gulf Posts The Saint’s Calendar and fills out those holidays that were only given names before as well as detailing the two moons.

Moons

Two moons hang in the skies of the Gulf, Laphis and Nephis.

Laphis is dark in coloration (like Jupiter’s Calisto in our universe), but it is visually larger than Nephis from the surface.  Laphis has a full cycle (Full to Full) of only 8 days, which, when combined with its large apparent size in the sky, means over the course of a night it can been seen waxing and waning.  While it is believed that the 8 day week originated from Laphis’ 8 day cycle, the modern calendar, with New Years Day not being a day of the week, has what day of the week a full Laphis moon falls on vary by year.  Laphis has the strongest effect on the tides.

Nephis, while visually smaller, has a much lighter coloration of the two, resulting in it often appearing brighter than its cousin in the night sky.  Like our own Luna, its color can vary depending on atmospheric conditions, but it tends towards a yellowish off-white.  Its cycle is about 29 days, and while it has less of an effect on the tides than Laphis, it can result in rather strong tides and currents when the two are in similar phases.

Both moons become full around the same time about every 232 days, or once or twice a year.  While the light from both full moons at once can be surprisingly usable on a clear night, it is said that vicious creatures become especially active on such nights, especially in the Gulf.   Some rituals require a particular phase of one or both moons, sometimes even under a particular star sign or season, which can result in a vary infrequent window for their completion.   There are stories of men that turn into beasts when the moons are right, but there is little consistency in whether Laphis, Nephis, or both triggers them.  Some suspect, if there is truth to these tales, it might depend on the individual or the particulars of the magic used to create them.

Holidays

New Year’s Day: Most years, New Year’s Day is a special day between the Festival of Passing, and the Day of the Revelation.  It is not considered part of any month nor any day of the week.  Every 5 years, this bonus day is skipped, and New Year’s day is celebrated on the same day as the Day of the Revelation.

The New Year is celebrated with a feast (although the size can vary depending on how well supplies lasted the Winter), as well as a community celebration involving music and dancing.  Brass instruments are traditional, although some communities develop their own traditions when such instruments were unavailable.  Either way such celebrations tend to be quite noisy, as that is said to bring good luck in the New Year.

The Day of the Revelation (1st Saintsday of Revelation): The Divine Way of the Saint-Heroes teaches that their founder, known as The Guide, began his preaching on the first day of Spring.  When the Saint’s Calendar was being written, it was decided that this day should become the first day of the year.  Most sects recognize this day with a recitation of the first Sermon the Guide supposedly gave.

The accuracy of most of these is questionable, as all accounts of this sermon were written after the fact with quite a few inconsistencies between them.  Add to that variations in the most good faith of translations (to say nothing of translators with an agenda), and the exact sermon can vary even within the same sect.  When New Year’s Day falls on the Day of the Revelation the music and festivities are often integrated with the services, and tends to be even more lively than usual.

Benediction of Spring (2nd Saintsday of Highwater):  The first of the four seasonal blessings traditionally observed in The Way.  The benediction of spring is traditionally performed by the least senior member of the local clergy, representing the new birth and life associated with the season.  The blessing invokes the saints for a good planting season, as well as mild flooding and weather.

Firelight Festival (3rd Bothyna of Kingsmonth): Taking place in the middle of the planting season, the Firelight festival is a chance to unwind in the middle of the busy and stressful season.  Bonefires are set up in the village square and other outdoor meeting places, and each family generally brings a dish as able.  Traditional dances are often performed by the firelight and the night by the firelight is also a popular date night for young couples.

Benediction of Summer (2nd Saintsday of Soliscuria): The next of the four seasonal blessings, this blessing is traditionally performed outdoors, with some congregations doing so only weather permitting while others do so in anything short of an unseasonably early major storm.  The Benediction of Summer asks the Saints for summer rain, and to watch over and bless the growing crops.

Planter’s Festival (2nd Bothyna of Soliscuria): The Planter’s festival traditionally falls on the 2nd Bothyna of Soliscuria, but in practice falls on the first Bothyna after planting has actually finished.  An all day event with music, eating, drinking, and general merrymaking, it is a welcome reward to the farmers after their hard work of planting the crops and an re-energizer for the seasons of tending them to come.

Ascension Day (2nd Saintsday of Highsun): According to tradition, what is now known as the Second Saintsday of Highsun marks the day where The Guide, after his 8 years of preaching The Way, ascended to the heavens as the first True Saint-Hero.  Different sects of the Way argue over whether this or the Day of Revelation is most important, but almost all sects honor both days, and one can expect a very long (and slightly more packed) service than usual at their local church.

Riversday (3rd Bothyna of Goldgrass):  Often seen as the last day for swimming before the arrival of Autumn, how much that is observed can vary by the individual, not even including climate and location.  The festival involves music, dancing, and often the first sampling of any crops that were early to ripen.

Benediction of Autumn (1st Saintsday of First Harvest):  The autumnal seasonal blessing is one of giving thanks to the Saints for their bounty and blessings they have provided up until this point.  They also invoke the saints to encourage the spirit of cooperation as the villages often require all hands on deck to bring the crops in on time, particularly in the Gulf with its early frost.

Grand Marketsday of the Gulf (3rd Marketsday of Noxregnum): The Grand Marketsday is a Gulf Tradition, arising organically due to the Gulf’s early onset of frost, Ashford’s Folly being the primary port, and Marketsday traditional day for sales and Markets.  Traders and farmers from all over gather in Ashford’s folly in the third week of Noxregnum, lining nearly every single main street (and several of the side streets) with stalls selling either selling the fruits of their harvest, or hawking some other good or service in order to purchase said harvest.  The sale has gotten so large in recent months that even mainland merchants sometimes make the trip trying to trade mainland luxuries for rare Gulf goods.

Unity Day (3rd Bothyna of Last Harvest): Unity day is a patriotic holiday in the Salvatian League, marking the day when the treaty of brotherhood was signed by the five founding dukes of the league (with two more duchies joining later, and one duchy being split in two in an inheritance dispute after founding, bringing it up to the eight today).  On the mainland, it is widely celebrated with military parades and royal speeches and grand events.  In the Gulf, the actual amount of patriotism that can be mustered for their ancestral home across the sea on this day varies from settlement to settlement.

Winter’s Eve (4th Bothyna of Last Harvest): Previously called Festival for the Slaughtered, Winter’s Eve is the more common name.  Traced back to ancient times, this festival is to honor the animals that were slaughtered in preparation for the coming Winter.  Tradition mandates that each animal that was slaughtered be fed a symbolic last helping (which is commonly eaten by any remaining animals), the creation of a large, communal bonfire, and a traditional stew.  The stew should contain a small amount of meat if the family has any, and to have any leftovers is considered disrespectful to the animal(s) used to make it.

Benediction of Winter (1st Saintsday of Snowfall): Traditionally performed by the most senior member of the clergy, often even including elderly practitioners of the Way who have otherwise retired.  The Benediction of Winter asks the Saints for health, warmth, and safety over the coming long winter, as well as for an early thaw and arrival of spring.

Oath of Kinship (2nd Bothyna of Snowfall): The Oath of Kinship is a new festival, unique to the Gulf, not all towns celebrate it, and those that do have wildly different traditions.  It originates from the first few years of Ashford’s Folly.  The first few winters of that settlement were particularly harsh, and there was constant, sometimes bloody, fighting over the limited provisions.  As their 4th Snowfall arrived, Timothy Ashford saw that supplies would again run thin.  He proposed that every member of the settlement swear an oath to treat one another has family, and consider their needs like they would their own kin.  It seemed to work, as members tightened their belts and generally did a better job looking out for each other.

This was repeated over the next couple of years, and things generally improved, although much of that can also be attributed to the colony infrastructure improving and the farmers getting a better feel for the land.  Still, it became a valued, and uniquely Gulf Tradition, and the 2nd Bothyna of Snowfall became a day for which communities could renew that oath, and travelers and hosts swear it to each other.  Breaking the oath before the spring thaw is one of the most serious breaches of hospitality that a person can commit among the communities of the Gulf.  Many such oathbreakers have found themselves literally left out in the cold the following winter.

Midwinter (3rd Bothyna of Noxapicem):  The middle of winter can be a cause for optimism for some, knowing that they have made it half way through the bitter cold season, or a source of anxiety for others knowing that they have ONLY  made it half way through the winter.  In more milder climes, Midwinter will be a full on festival in its own right, but in the harsh winter of the Gulf, Midwinter is a time that to take stock of your supplies. It is often marked in the Gulf by a meeting among the towns people, with those who have extra supplies giving to those who do not.  In general, there is a view that this all evens out long term, but bad blood can brew between those who are generally well prepared for winter, and those who generally are not.

Festival of Passing (5th Bothyna of Year’s End): The last day of the year on the Saint’s Calendar, and the start of the multi-day New Years Celebration.  The Festival of Passing is both a celebration, honoring both the Saints for all the blessings they have given over the past year, and those that have passed on the year before.  It is believed that the Festival of Passing is the day that souls are able to move onto the next world.  If proper respects are not paid to the dead, they may remain for another year to haunt the living!
In most traditions of The Way, this involves a priest reading their name and invoking the Saint-Heroes to take care of the lost in the next world, and often burning an offering in the dead person’s name, often something they enjoyed in life.  The Gulf has also adopted a particular tradition of having friends and family of the departed recalling humorous anecdotes at their expense, in hopes that the deceased will be too embarrassed to remain in this world.


Current PaDC score: 11/31

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