Campaign of the Month: June 2012
Holy Days of the Great Church
The holy numbers of the mythology are three (three good elemental gods, three sisters, three tribes of Div, etc.) and five (five fruits on the tree, five mortal races, five treeborn gods, five gods born of woman, etc.) and so the holidays take place on threes and fives.
The third month of the year, Shal, is called the “Three Sorrows.” For the deeply devout, one must fast in the daytime and contemplate all of one’s misdeeds over the past year at night (it is allowed to continue to work and perform one’s secular duties during this time, including adventuring). On the third, ninth, and 27th nights of the month are day-long services followed by solemn feasts. Each such holiday is an observance of one of the great sorrows:
The First Sorrow
- On the third day of the third month, this service mourns the fall of Kador (whose name is not spoken in the service and is instead called “First Born” and “Fallen Fire”). This service serves as a reminder of the pitfalls of personal greed and pride, and all in attendance are to see themselves in Kador.
The Second Sorrow
- On the ninth day, the service recalls the first murder, brother upon brother, when Terak and Tinel killed one another and the great tree. The service reminds all in attendance to be forgiving of their neighbors and to live in harmony.
The Third Sorrow
- On the 27th day, the service recalls the departure of the gods from the world with the forging of the Compact. In this service, the faithful pray to be reunited with the gods in death, and hope for a time when the gods may rejoin the world of mortals in peace. It is the church’s belief, as expressed in this ceremony, that the gods left the earth not only for their own struggles but because of the weakness of mortals, a weakness that is lamented in the ceremony.
Those of the faithful who are not particularly devout do not fast during the month, but nearly everyone attends the three ceremonies of sorrow.
The fifth month of the year, Aym, is called the “Five Blessings” and is a month of great celebration. If at all possible, the devout will avoid being far from home during this month, though church business has certainly taken servants of the faith far from home even during the five blessings.
Every five days of this month there is a great festival day, including a noontime service in the local parish (which usually spills out into the streets, as these ceremonies bring so many people to the church) and an enormous feast.
The First Blessing
- On the fifth day of the fifth month, the faithful thank the gods for the blessing of life. On this day all the babies born in the past three months are dressed up in ceremonial costumes and given special names. However, each name is whispered to the baby by the cleric performing the ceremony after he recites “The Passage,” so it’s generally unheard of for any of the faithful to know their baby name. It is said that if the baby dies before it can speak, this name will grant it an immediate audience with Lord Maal. Babies born more than three months before this ceremony usually have already had a small ceremony and received their name.
The Second Blessing
- On the tenth day, the faithful thank the gods for the blessing of food. On this day everyone in the parish prepares the most sumptuous dish they can imagine, usually spending more than they can possibly afford on ingredients, and the faithful feed one another all day long in a festival that takes place in the streets.
The Third Blessing
- On the 15th day, the faithful thank the gods for the blessing of home and family. On this day there is a great festival where the parish builds a home for anyone who may need it. In small communities, this may involve raising a barn if no one needs a new home, but most often a new house is built for newlyweds married in the past year who, up until this time, have been living with the parents of the bride. In very large communities with omnipresent beggars, the congregation will build a home for only one person selected symbolically by the dean of the church.
The Fourth Blessing
- On the 20th day of the fifth month, the faithful enjoy their greatest festival – and the one that brings the Church its most converts. On this day, the faithful thank the gods for the blessing of joy. Also known as “Fool’s Day,” this holiday sees no poor performers. Acting troupes, jugglers, jesters, and every other entertainer who can bring out a laugh is paid handsomely by the church to perform in the streets for the faithful. There is a great deal of wine consumed, and all of the faithful dress up in outlandish costumes, usually in animal forms.
The Fifth Blessing
- On the 25th day, the faithful thank the gods for the gift of death, which brings all mortals back to the gods’ embrace. At this festival, likenesses of all those who have died that year are placed on a dais, and all those in attendance have a great feast in their honor. It is the duty of the family of the deceased to try and accomplish something this day that the departed left unfinished.
Even those who are not devout members of the church observe these five holy days, and it is considered wrong to work during the festivals.
Along with these two months of celebration, the Great Church has weekly religious services.