Holidays of Gamilin Faham
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Holidays of Gamilin Faham

dedicatedfollower467 31st Jan 2014, 8:00 AM edit delete
Throughout the world, Gamilin Faham dwarves have the reputation for being industrious, hard-working individuals whose "weekends" occur only once a month. (This is incorrect - dwarf weekends are two days at the end of every week - it's just that in the kingdom of Gamilin Faham, a "week" is ten days long). Despite this stereotype, the northern dwarves do share a series of religious and cultural holidays. These occur four times a year at various stages of light during the year.

The first festival, Atûkaz (or Atuukaz), is the dwarvish new year, also known as the Festival of Light. It begins at twilight on the shortest day of the year. Dwarves observing the holiday light lamps and candles, build giant bonfires, and generally create as much light as possible, to beat back the darkness of the night and look forward to the sun's return in the morning of the year to come.

Firecrackers and fireworks are often imported from the southern dwarves in order to celebrate this time of year. In the capital Elekhuz, where Alfdis and Gunnora live, there is an enormous parade with fire jugglers, people who decorate their bodies with glowing paint, and dwarves who set themselves on fire. Poorer families will spend the months leading up to Atûkaz hoarding lamp oil, because legend has it that if you can keep a lamp burning throughout the entire night, you will have wealth and good fortune in the coming year. Every year, a lamp burns for each dwarf in Alfdis's family, extended family, and some of the servants. Gunnora's family has never been able to make any lamp last the whole night.

Music, alcohol, good food, and sexual gratification are often important parts of the night - it's not really Atûkaz for many of the richer dwarves if half the ghetto hasn't burned down by morning. It is considered a night of indulgence, the last day of the year in which to feel old hatreds, enjoy old pleasures, and engage in the worst kinds of activity.

The morning which follows the night of Atûkaz, the first day of the year, is a sacred Day of Prayer for fasting, thanksgiving, and repentance. Devout dwarves will attend Temple and reflect on what they will do in the course of the new year. Of course, SOME people just go home to nurse their hangovers. (Many speculate that this is the REAL reason for the Day of Prayer.)

Atûkaz is considered very sacred and holy, and non-dwarves are discouraged from participating in it, or even being in any primarily dwarvish city during the celebration.

The second festival is Baruzki, the Festival of Love. Held on the spring equinox, the festival is a day for the celebration of unity, equality, and harmony. Specifically, it is a celebration for lovers, intimate friends, and family. Baruzki is the traditional date for a variety new experiences, including having sex for the first time, beginning courtship rituals, proposing marriage, weddings, the ritual naming of children born in the early spring, the presentation of youths aspiring to become religious leaders to the Temple, and the ordaining of religious leaders.

Those who aren't engaging in these rituals usually spend a great deal of time with friends and family, and those with sexual partners usually have a LOT of sex. Children born on Baruzki are often called Azyanj, (a portmanteau of the dwarvish words for "double" and "love") because dwarvish gestation periods last about a year - thus children born on or around Baruzki were likely also conceived on Baruzki.

Flowers are an important part of the celebration of Baruzki. In most of the Northern Kingdom, Baruzki is around the time of year that the very earliest flowers begin to bloom. Although jewels are the most common token of dwarvish affection, during Baruzki precious stones and metals are frequently replaced with freshly-picked flowers. The flowers are considered by dwarves to represent the ephemeral quality of Baruzki-like affection, for they are here today and gone tomorrow.

The capital city of Elekhuz is usually filled with visiting dwarves from distant parts of the kingdom and occasionally even from different kingdoms, because many of them wished to be married or blessed at the famous Temple that resides there.

Baruzki is considered a day of purity, so alcohol, red meat, and excessive food are generally prohibited. It is an extremely holy day and is also considered one of the most intimate times of the year, and so non-dwarves are heavily discouraged from participating. In fact, this is such a private holiday that outsiders considered "dwarfy" enough to attend Atûkaz may not be allowed to attend Baruzki. Being invited to join a dwarvish family for Baruzki is the highest honor a non-dwarf may receive (and usually those who receive it have learned enough about the culture to recognize the honor).

The third festival is Gabilnar, the Festival or Lore, or the Mid-Summer's festival. Held on the longest day of the year, Gabilnar is the festival for acclaiming one's own personal greatness. Those with particular talents will choose to show them off - bakers create their finest pastries, artisans show of their greatest wares, actors declaim oratories in the streets, and even small children are encouraged to demonstrate their particular talents.

Many parts of the kingdom hold competitions of one sort or another on Gabilnar. Elekhuz is famous for its yearly Tournament, and in fact for most people in Elekhuz the Mid-Summer's Tournament overshadows all other aspects of the holiday. The Elekhuz Tournament is an extremely open-ended fighting competition, in which people may compete with any weapon against a variety of other fighters, for a great deal of wealth and personal gain. Unlike the other holidays, the Elekhuz celebration of Gabilnar usually lasts several days,to allow everyone the chance to full participate in the Tournament. Technically only the first day is a religious holiday.

Because Gabilnar is very much about demonstrating the superiority of dwarves, non-dwarves are encouraged to come and get their butt kicked or be thoroughly outshone by dwarves. The Tournament of Elekhuz is widely attended by humans, and occasionally there are elves, bird folk, and even halflings who attend. To this day, no non-dwarf has won any of the chief titles or prizes awarded during the Tournament.

The Elekhuz Tournament is usually split in half - the Nobles' Tournament and the Commoners' Tournament. The Commoners' Tournament is fought for lower stakes, and anyone may enter it. The Nobles' Tournament holds the biggest prizes and the greatest possibility for reward, but entrants must be sponsored by a noble. Many religious leaders have protested this division, as the holy day of Gabilnar is supposed to be a day in which every dwarf is acknowledged as worthy, and they claim that any dwarf should be allowed to compete for the highest stakes.

In most parts of the kingdom, Gabilnar is followed by a Day of Prayer, a time for fasting and reflection. This is generally ignored in Elekhuz in favor of the second day of the Tournament. Particularly devout dwarves may abstain from the Tournament on the second day.

The fourth and final holiday is Manor, which literally means Market Day. It is held on the fall equinox, and it represents a time in which all people are made equal. Once a day of preparation for winter, and a symbolic recognition that all people are affected by nature's cruelty, the holiday has become a much more lighthearted time of jokes and gift-giving.

As the name implies, a huge market is generally held on this day, and dwarves will buy their loved ones presents. Occasionally these are meant to be surprises, but for the most part each dwarf is allowed to pick out the gift they desire. Young children are encouraged to give gifts as well, and one of the most common gifts given among children are fresh tropical fruits, which are usually just within the budget range of middle-class children's allowances.

In addition to the market by day, at night a huge party is held. Role reversals are very common during this period - nobles may wait upon their servants, children order their parents around, and a great deal of cross-dressing is involved. Priests of all genders (who are traditionally supposed to remain covered in heavy, concealing robes at all times after their ordination) will run through the streets naked. Children will often wear their boots on their hands and run around barefoot. A great deal of food and alcohol is generally consumed.

Non-dwarves are invited and encouraged to participate in Manor. Humans are generally told to walk around on their knees, and some dwarves will wear high stilts and so the two races will switch places for a time. Halflings who participate will glue false beards to their faces. Generally these are the only two races who participate in Gabilnar, as bird folk, elves, and merpeople find it too undignified, and orcs and goblins are considered enemies, though historically, warring dwarvish kingdoms or clans have been known to hold a truce that lasts only through the night of Manor.

I hope you enjoyed this discussion of Dwarvish holidays! As you know, in the context of the comic, Gabilnar is approaching, and Gunnora is about to compete in the Mid-Summer Tournament. Tune in a week from today to see the cover of Chapter Three!


illusionoftheworld 31st Jan 2014, 9:15 AM edit delete reply
I'd totally attend ALL of these if I could. Yay worldbuilding!
dedicatedfollower467 31st Jan 2014, 11:01 AM edit delete reply
Thank you! :) Don't forget to tune in a week from today for the cover of the next chapter!
Teka Lynn 31st May 2014, 5:55 PM edit delete reply
Love the culture and worldbuilding!

Lesbian dwarves for the win. I was VERY happy to find this comic.
dedicatedfollower467 31st May 2014, 8:59 PM edit delete reply
Thank you! I'm glad you like it!