Feasts and Festivals
Author: Kyria d'Oreyn
Unless stated otherwise, all information herein is taken from TWoRJTWoT.
- 1 General
- 2 Amaetheon
- 3 Asadine
- 4 Bailene
- 5 Bel Arvina
- 6 Bel Tine
- 7 Blessings of the Nets
- 8 Chansein
- 9 Dahan
- 10 Danshu
- 11 Day of Repentance
- 12 Feast of Abram
- 13 Feast of Fools
- 14 Feast of Freia
- 15 Feast of Lights
- 16 Feast of Embers
- 17 Feast of Maia
- 18 Feast of Neman
- 19 Feast of the Half Moon
- 20 Feast of Sefan/Teven
- 21 Festival of Birds
- 22 Festival of Lanterns
- 23 Genshai
- 24 High Chasaline
- 25 Lamma Sor
- 26 Low Chasaline
- 27 Mabriam's Day
- 28 Maddin's Day
- 29 Shaoman
- 30 Shearing
- 31 Sunday
- 32 Swovan Night
- 33 Tandar
- 34 Tirish Adar
- 35 Winternight
Far too many feastdays exist to be listed completely. For example, the Taraboner Calendar of Days lists all festivals, holidays and other special days and records not only the following list of the best-known, but also King's and Queen's Days, and even a Panarch's Day. There are also a lot of feasts and festivals that are only observed locally.
The southern countries, like Illian and Altara are known for their many holidays and feasts that sometimes follow on top of one another. These are celebrated with grand displays of fireworks for example, pompous parades, masquerades or contests for story-telling. Their reputation as hard workers the people have earned themselves comes from feasting so frequently, as many believe.
The way certain festivals are celebrated often varies from location to location. While Illian and the region of Altara around Ebou Dar favor pomp and Arad Doman delights in grandness, Cairhien acts rather reserved and sometimes severe during its holidays.
Amaetheon is celebrated on the sixth day of Shaldine everywhere excepting the Borderlands as a feast joyously remembering the dead.
Ten days before Sunday, during Asadine, a day of fasting, neither the Cairhienin nor the Borderlanders will take food between sunrise and sunset. In the Borderlands, many couples marry on the day after Asadine, for it is considered to be an especially propitious time to do so.
Bailene is celebrated on the ninth day of Amadaine in Arad Doman, Tarabon, Amadicia and Tear.
Bel Arvina is a locally determined feast celebrating the first day of autumn.
Bel Tine celebrates the end of winter and the sprouting of the first green in spring. The date is determined locally, but Bel Tine is supposed to come when spring has well and truly arrived.
In smaller villages, everyone comes together to sing and dance on this day.
During the whole day there is singing, dancing and feasting with time in between for footraces and contests. In the morning the newly married couples dance around the Spring Pole with long, brightly colored ribbons, while the older and unmarried people dance to the music of fiddles, flutes and drums. At noon it is the unmarried women's turn to dance the Pole, while the unmarried men sing.
The contests are in almost everything, from archery to solving riddles and puzzles to lifting and tossing weights. Prizes are given to the best with the sling or the quarterstaff, at the rope tug, for the best singer, dancer or fiddle player, for the quickest sheep shearer, the best at bowls or darts.
- Spring Pole
Around ten feet to two spans tall, the Spring Pole is a straight, slender trunk, commonly of a fir tree, shorn off its branches. The day before Bel Tine, the women put up the Pole in the middle of the Green and the men should act surprised the next day when they see it.
- Bel Tine Fires
One the edges of the village Green three stacks of logs are put up, sometimes as big as houses.
Some people believe that feeding those flames will burn away the bad luck that mounted up since the previous Bel Tine.
- Bel Tine is one of the five major events in the Two Rivers (TEotW, Ravens).
- "No goodwife in the Two Rivers would let Bel Tine come before her spring cleaning was done" (Rand; TEotW, Ch. 1).
- Every year around Bel Tine Rand lays flowers on his mother's grave (TEotW, Ch. 1).
- Tam won the archery contest at Bel Tine every year (TEotW, Ch. 1)
- Abell Cauthon won the quarterstaff contest at Bel Tine every year, except for a couple of years when Tam al'Thor won it (TDR, Ch. 24).
Blessings of the Nets
The Blessings of the Nets is celebrated in small fishing villages (Glossary).
Chansein is celebrated on the third day of Jumara in the Borderlands and Arad Doman. The unrestrained food-eating that this day contains induces others to gluttony.
During the day people carry filled pastries that they hand to anyone they come across. It is considered ill-mannered to fail to eat every crumb.
The ninth day of Saven, Dahan is supposedly meant to be celebrating the anniversary of the final victory in the Trolloc Wars and the liberation from the Shadow, although almost every historian believes this date was chosen at random
Danshu is a feast or festival celebrated on the last day of Nesan
Day of Repentance
The Day of Repentance is celebrated in Cairhien with sedate dancing on a half-moon night in winter (ACoS, Ch. 33).
Feast of Abram
The Feast of Abram is celebrated on the ninth day of Jumara in Tarabon, Amadicia, Ghealdan, Andor, Altara, Murandy, Illian, Tear and Cairhien. On this day, prizes are baked into honeycakes and everyone is ready to offer a cup and a kiss.
In Tear, Illian, and the southern half of Altara, the time between the Feast of Abram and the Feast of Fools is considered the most propitious for a wedding.
(Reference: The Path of Daggers, Chapter 17)
Feast of Fools
The Feast of Fools is celebrated either in Tammaz (Arad Doman and the Borderlands) or Saven (everywhere else), the exact date being locally determined. In Baerlon and the Two Rivers it is known as Foolday, in Kandor as the Festival of Fools and in Saldaea as the Festival of Unreason.
On this day, the usual hierarchy is topsy-turvy. The low may choose not to work at all and order the high around, who perform such tasks as running errands or serving at tables.
In smaller towns or villages the most foolish person is given the title of King/Queen of Fools or such as Lord/Lady of Unreason/Misrule/Chaos, which is no honor anyone would jump at. But whatever order this chosen person gives, however foolish, everyone has to obey, if only for the day.
In Tear, Illian, and the southern half of Altara, the time between the Feast of Abram and the Feast of Fools is considered the most propitious for a wedding.
- In the Two Rivers, the Foolday is one of the five major events during the year when everyone comes together (TEotW, Ravens).
- Sometimes masks are worn to frighten off people (ACoS, Ch. 12).
Feast of Freia
The Feast of Freia is celebrated on the twenty-first day of Adar in Illian, Arad Doman, Ghealdan, Tarabon and parts of Altara and Murandy.
Feast of Lights
The Feast of Lights is celebrated on the last day of Danu, which is also the shortest day of the year, and the first day of Taisham in every nation to mark the turning of the year (NS, Ch. 14).
Lamps and candles are lit wherever they can be placed, windows in every house are illumined and even anchored ships are shining until sunup after Firstday. In many cities, processions of citizens carry lamps through the streets. It is a joyous celebration with a lot of laughter, dancing and singing in merry gatherings that even among the poorest can last until daybreak. In Cairhien, however, it is more than that (NS, Ch. 14; LoC, Ch. 54).
In Cairhien it is the only time of the year when all barriers between commoner and noble are broken, and with it, the typical reserve. High and low dance together on the streets and anyone can kiss whomever they wish. Men and women alike are often seen bare to the waist (LoC, Ch. 53).
- First Day
The second day of the Feast of Lights and the first day of the new year is also called First Day. Few people ever leave the streets completely. This is a particular time to be charitable (LoC, Ch. 54).
With the dawning of the second day of Taisham does not only end the Firstday, but the exuberance in Cairhien as well. Everyone picks up their cold reserve and no one thinks of what has happened during the holiday again.
- In the White Tower, even the oldest storerooms that have not been in use for centuries are opened to be illumined (NS, Ch. 14).
- No one leaves the cities during the Feast of Lights, and few before (LoC, Ch. 54).
- Agni Neres thinks that he is generous enough, when he gives alms on Firstday (TFoH, Ch. 48).
Feast of Embers
The Feast of Embers is two days after the Festival of Birds. Two days after it is Maddin's Day, with the Feast of the Half Moon the following day. It is celebrated with displays of fireworks (ACoS, Ch. 38; TPoD, Ch. 1).
Feast of Maia
The Feast of Maia is celebrated on the sixth day of Amadaine in Andor, Ghealdan, Altara, Murandy and Illian.
Feast of Neman
The Feast of Neman is celebrated on the ninth day of Adar in Andor, Cairhien, Tear and the Borderlands (TWoRJTWoT).
Feast of the Half Moon
The Feast of the Half Moon is celebrated in Altara, two days after Maddin's Day (ACoS, Ch. 38).
Feast of Sefan/Teven
The Feast of Sefan, also called Feast of Teven, is an Illianer celebration in the month of Amadaine. This day lures gleemen from all over the world into Illian, where they can take part in competitions.
During the day, there are story-telling contests and a price of one hundred gold marks for the best in reciting The Great Hunt for the Horn. In the evening, gleemen perform in palaces or mansions.
(References: The Eye of the World, Chapter 26; The Great Hunt, Chapter 9)
Festival of Birds
The Festival of Birds is celebrated in the southern regions two days before Maddin's Day in winter.
On this day, men and women alike cover themselves with robes of feathers and fanciful masks that have the semblance of a bird. Some add ribbons to their costumes, others diaphanous robes with varying amounts of feathers. The poorer folk are mostly content with just a few feathers in their hair. Usually, entertainers like tumblers, jugglers and musicians perform indoors, as are the settings displaying young men and women in bright bird masks that cover their entire heads, sometimes with huge crests and long colorful wings.
(Reference: A Crown of Swords, Chapter 29)
Festival of Lanterns
The Festival of Lanterns is celebrated on the first day of Choren in Arad Doman, Tarabon, Amadicia, Ghealdan, Altara, Murandy and Illian with displays of brightly colored and often fancifully shaped paper lanterns that are hung everywhere.
Genshai is a feast or festival celebrated on the third day of Tammaz in Tear, Illian, Amadicia, Tarabon and southern parts of Altara and Murandy. On this day both men and women will wear brightly colored ribbons.
High Chasaline is celebrated on the twelfth day of Taisham; in some countries it is known under the name "Day of Reflection".
The day is spent with feasting and the night with public dancing in smaller towns or private gatherings in larger cities to forget the bleakness of winter. On this day you are supposed to reflect on your sins and faults, but also on the good fortune in your life. It is considered bad form to voice a complaint on this day and anyone who does will find a bucket of water upended over him to wash away bad luck; this is very common in villages.
(References: New Spring, Chapter 14; A Crown of Swords, Chapter 1, Chapter 4)
- Sheriam Bayanar was tested for the shawl on High Chasaline (NS, Ch. 14).
- Cairhien is one of the countries where High Chasaline officially is called the Day of Reflection (NS, Ch. 14).
- It is a time of merriment in the Two Rivers (ACoS, Ch. 4).
Lamma Sor, also called the Day of Remembrance, is a feast or festival celebrated in the Borderlands on the day after the first quarter moon (called a "knife moon") of Saban.
During the day, Borderlanders eat nothing but bread, oil, salt and water and spend their time with prayers for those who died defending against the Blight and for those who will fall.
Low Chasaline, which takes place on the eighteenth day of Maigdhal, is a day of fasting in most places of the world.
Mabriam's Day is a feast or festival celebrated on the eighteenth day of Tammaz in small towns and villages.
On this day, any sort of labor is avoided. Everything of necessity has been done the day before, like cooking food, but there are some who prepare things in the small hours before sunrise, claiming that the real day has not yet begun.
Traditionally, young women play tricks on young men to indicate that they are interested in them, even though sometimes young women work together in groups to keep their actions as secret as possible. When the man then guesses who is responsible, he is rewarded, for example, with a kiss from the young woman or a kiss from each of the group.
Maddin's Day celebrates the founder of Altara two days after the Feast of Embers. The night after this festival, the Feast of the Half Moon is celebrated (ACoS, Ch. 38).
Shaoman is celebrated on the twelfth day of Shaldine as a particular feast for children.
Often, groups of children go through the places where it is celebrated and sing in front of the houses to be rewarded with sweets or small gifts.
Shearing is celebrated in farming communities some time after Bel Tine.
During the day, men shear sheep, while women prepare the meals for the feast, formally with shawls draped around their arms and flowers in their hair. The young children that want to help are set to carry water, the older girls help the women with their cooking and the boys herd sheep.
In the Two Rivers, this is one of the five major events where everyone comes together.
(Reference: The Eye of the World, Ravens)
Sunday is the longest day of the year, in midsummer, and celebrated in most countries. It comes in the month of Amadaine, but is not part of that month. Like on Bel Tine, there is feasting, dancing and competitions. Gifts are exchanged and sometimes fireworks are displayed (ACoS, Glossary; TDR, Ch. 38; TSR, Ch. 4; WH, Ch. 17).
It is one of the major events in the Two Rivers, when everyone gathers for the feasting. Women who want a man to know they are interested in him put flowers in his hair (TEotW, Ravens; TSR, Ch. 6).
- Rand puts flowers on his mother's grave on Sunday (TEotW, Ch. 1).
- There are huge gatherings of Tinker caravans in special meeting places (KoD, Ch. 12).
- Stories say that every Sunday a rose appears on Rogosh Eagle-eye's grave from Dunsinin as a token of their bargain (TGH, Ch. 25).
Swovan Night is a feast or festival celebrated in the southern regions, such as Ebou Dar, on an evening between High Chasaline and the Festival of Birds (ACoS, Ch. 16).
For this festival, pine branches are tied above the windows and people dance in palaces or inns with sprigs of evergreen in their hair. They even dancing through the firework-lit streets, from one festivity to another (ACoS, Ch. 17; Ch. 21).
- Beslan thinks that the balls on Swovan Night are for the older population and their pretties; he favors taverns of the rougher sort (ACoS, Ch. 16).
- On Swovan Night, Beslan was out drinking with Birgitte (ACoS, Ch. 29).
Tandar, celebrated on the ninth day of Maigdhal, is supposed to be a feast of reconcilement.
At the end of the day, no one should still be holding a grudge against anyone, though the festivities have often been troubled by attempts to sort out the argument in a completely different way than intended.
Tirish Adar is celebrated from the rise of the first full moon in Adar to the rise of the next moon in most northern countries. At night, no one usually sleeps more than one or two hours during that period.
Winternight is the night before Bel Tine, celebrating the end of winter. It is spent visiting the neighbors, exchanging small gifts and having something to eat and drink at every brightly lit house, while fiddles are playing in the streets (TEotW, Ch. 1).
- Every year on Winternight in Emond's Field Haral Luhhan, the blacksmith, sings "The Wind in the Barley", because he drank too much, while Cenn Buie, the old thatcher, wants to prove that he can still dance as well as ever, and Mat has planned a prank that does not quite happen as intended (TEotW, Ch. 6).
"Two farms were attacked," Lan went on. "Yours and one other. Because of Bel Tine everyone who lived at the second farm was already in the village. Many people were saved because the Myrddraal was ignorant of Two Rivers customs. Festival and Winternight made its task all but impossible, but it did not know that." (Lan; The Eye of the World, Chapter 8).