Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Pellatarrum: Halfling Holidays

by Mike Kochis, with help by Erin Palette

While the Halflings of Pellatarrum use the common calendar, they have several unique seasonal holidays. The halfling calendar is referred to by outsiders as an endless string of holidays, back to back. Halflings know better – those holidays overlap. What's the fun in celebrating just one holiday at a time?

Some of their most famous holidays are listed below.

Weeks of Twined Seasons
There are four "overlap seasons", each lasting a week, where halflings expect both elements, and combinations of the two, to fall from the sky. By starting midweek, the festivals begin in one season and end in another.

Mudfast (autumn/water to winter/earth): Fools blame the humans for inventing mud wrestling, but the truth is that this began as a courtship contest among the halflings. Mudfast is not so named because halflings want the earth season to come quickly, but rather because the first day of the season (known as Warp Day -- see below) is the one day halflings traditionally "fast" or eat nothing. Interestingly enough, fasting does not preclude drinking. This leads to the expected boasts of virility and fighting for a lady's favor, as well as wicked hangovers after (and during!) the contests. Think "Highland Games, as performed by drunken Irish farmers."

Duster (winter/earth to spring/air): The holiday of Cropwash falls on the last Halfday of winter, and continues until the first of Spring. Every halfling gets together with their family, grabs a sponge or rag or garden implement, and washes the crops -- all the crops, even those of their most stalwart rivals. Despite the name, the holiday is more than a literal washing of crops; in addition to removing the residual dirt left over from winter, pruning, fertilization, and other "get ready for spring planting" tasks. One would think that there would be some folk "shirking work", but halflings show a nearly dwarven work ethic during this holiday; however, buckets of water often mysteriously find themselves being emptied in the general direction of other halflings as a good-natured prank.

Ignition (spring/air to summer/fire): Sadly, the ideal of the halfling farmer wasting away the summer days with a bit of straw in his mouth is far from the truth (although halflings have been known to assume exactly this posture and mannerism just to poke fun of outsiders.) This festival is celebrated with working holidays such as Fence Mending, where one mends fences, both social and physical (and put up new fences, where applicable). The final checks on fireproofing are done on residences, for the obvious reasons. Pre-ash crops are harvested, and the halflings retire underground to wait out the season of annihilation. This does not mean isolation -- halfing communities have vast networks of tunnels and underground meeting spaces. An apparently sleepy township can host a bustling underground economy.

Steamfall (summer/fire to autumn/water): Ashcrop, another working holiday, falls during this week. Crops with strong roots are planted in the fertile ash soil of the surface. Although many families will remain underground until winter, there are some who literally sing in the rain. Also known as "fritzy hair week", in some communities Steamfall is celebrated by intentionally "poofing out" one's hair. It is also time for halfling weddings (the results of courtships begun during Mudfast), which tend to be large community affairs. The married couple usually retires to their residence and are not expected to surface until spring. It is traditional to leave gifts of food at the doors of newlyweds throughout this season.

Warp Day is a halfling legend. It claims that on the day between years (traditionally the first day of Mudfast), the dimensional borders of Pellatarum are weaker than normal. On this day, and this day only, it is possible for travel between Pellatarum and the ruins of other worlds. Poppycock, of course. But there are elders who dimly remember their elders once telling them that the "day between" wasn't always at the start of Mudfast...

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