There are innumerable customs associated with the New Year, but many have merged together with the spread of globalism. Several notable customs have recently spread quite far—some of these have been taken up in regions far from their place of origin, others have simply become notorious throughout Dakai. It is difficult to determine when and where most of these customs originated, as they have evolved somewhat dramatically over time. The most widespread custom is the exchange of gifts, an intrinsic part of New Year celebrations in nearly every Dakian society. Beyond that, though, the customs are as varied as the cultures that practice them.
Though the Brechan do not like their celebration being grouped with so many others, the Fair does take place on the New Year. In fact, during the fireworks display, fountains of water are shot into the air, igniting the luxberries as they fall. To desert dwellers, who value water over nearly everything else, this “fire-rain” is even more impressive than the ingenious fireworks crafted by the Engineers. Gift-giving is also a theme at the Fair; there is a proverb which says that two people who exchange gifts at the Ayaroka Fair will be together forever.
The New LightEdit
The New Light is a ritual practiced in several different variations by the Lightians. It is a central part of Lightianism, as it is a symbol of the Light’s power to conquer the Dark each year. Lightians believe that at the end of the 100th Cycle, the Light burns out completely. They must gather Its remains (the luxberries) in order to create the New Light. The luxberries are placed in a pit or large metal vat. When as many luxberries as possible have been gathered together, they are sprayed with water, causing them to ignite all at once in a blinding flash. It is believed that if this ritual is not performed, the New Light cannot be born, leaving the world eternally in Darkness.
Some sects of Lightianism avert their eyes from the holiness of the flash. Others honor those who are able to look directly at it. It is said that the Lightian prophet Shalandi received her great visions after being blinded by the glory of the New Light in 3409 DC. The armored Phek honor their strongest warriors by allowing them to stand amidst the luxberries as they ignite. It is believed that those who die are taken to be a part of the New Light’s strength, while those who survive are left so that they might lead the people in the following year.
The Poor Cold ManEdit
The Poor Cold Man is a folkloric figure popular in the Zivarzzez Mountains. It is said that during the last Cycle of the year he rides his mountain goat (named, in keeping with the literal-mindedness of the mountain people, Goat) across the entire mountain range. He is depicted wearing varying amounts of winter clothing, but it is interesting to note that his face is always obscured by a scarf or balaclava. Legend has it that the Poor Cold Man is freezing to death on Goat’s back, no matter how much he wraps himself in furs, coats, hats and scarves. Coming across a cottage in the snow, he enters and sits in by fire until he warms up. Filled with gratitude for the people sleeping in the next room who have so kindly left the fire burning and the door unlocked, he crosses the room to the pile of children’s presents left under the cuckoo clock and switches the labels, addressing the best of the presents to the most deserving of the children. He then leaves, politely closing the door behind him, and he and Goat disappear into the night. The Poor Cold Man is largely considered a children’s story, but there are some who believe there is truth in it. Children hoping for a visit from the Poor Cold Man make sure the door is unlocked and the fire lit and leave out a steaming mug of hot !!! and a letter listing the wonderful presents which are, in their opinions, unfortunately addressed to undeserving siblings.
The ululu is the tallest tree in all of Dakai. It grows in the Endless Forest of Kassia. The Ululu Burning ceremony is held in every Kassian town and is ostensibly to celebrate the rebirth of Amni as the Astroluces, but in reality it originated long before the birth of Amniism and was simply adopted into the faith. In practice it is more communal than devout. During the last Cycle of the departing year a fully-grown ululu is cut down and brought into the town center. Each household takes one branch of the tree and hangs it over the door of their house. The stripped trunk remains in the town center until the dark first Phase of the new year, when it is burned from one end to the other. The unusual composition of the ululu causes it to burn in exactly one Phase, and in several different colors as the flame moves down the trunk. The entire population gathers in the town center to watch. They talk, eat and sing. All but the smallest children stay awake until the flame has guttered out and the sky is lightening. The ashes are not swept up, but left to blow away in the wind. The cobblestones in the centers of the oldest Kassian towns are stained black from hundreds, maybe thousands of Ululu Burnings.
The term “wassailing” is a portmanteau of “wailing” and “sailing.” The practice originated in the marshes of the Jrbllndm River delta around 7000 DC. Every Dakian New Year groups of wassailers board small river boats and sail from house to house across the marshes, singing as loudly and discordantly as they possibly can. They carry wooden bowls, which people fill with food and drink (craahfe wine became the traditional offering soon after its invention) in the hope that doing so will make the wassailers go away, or at least shut up. Most wassailing songs have a rousing chorus and hundreds of extremely short verses. This format ensures that very little time is wasted learning the songs, since the majority of the wassailers only need to know the chorus. Wassailing groups are sometimes formed on a whim by families and friends who have gathered to celebrate the holiday. However, there are some wassailing groups which are extremely exclusive and rehearse their carefully composed disharmonies all year in preparation for the event.
It is no surprise that this joyful, heart-warming, and spirited custom is so popular. It has spread far and wide, and has become symbolic of the New Year all over Dakai. In inland regions wassailers, lacking a body of water, mount their boats on wheels and pull them along behind as they walk through the streets, spreading cheer to all.
Kostrzewa 22:43, September 26, 2010 (UTC)