Dated: 09 May, 2021
Days of the week, months and festivals in and around the Capital of the Land of the Young
In S01 The Players’ Guide to Dunromin there is a calendar giving a view of the shape of the year (copied above). This is all well and good but it doesn’t really tell you much about what happens in the city as time ticks along; in this blog I aim to amend that.
Of course, in the passage of most games such things are pretty much irrelevant; Adventurers don’t have a “weekend” and when they are training or resupplying it is generally assumed that the shops and services they need are open and available. Which is fine.
But what if you REALLY want to immerse yourself in the life of the world setting? Or maybe mess with their heads and make the simplest tasks frustrating and/or awkward? What if they can’t get any arrows because all the fletchers are shut on Sitting-Day? What if the scroll they need copied before the cataclysm is in the scribe’s shop and the scribe is closed so they can take part in the Great Hunt as part of their role in the Celtic Temple? What if the party member can’t get a Cure Disease because all the temples are closed for the Winter Solstice? Or maybe the Dunromin natives refuse to leave on an adventure unless it is a Sunday because it is bad luck?
It’s probably irrelevant to most games, but here’s what happens:
The months mark the orbits of the Moon, which follows a figure of eight pattern every seven days above the western end of the planet. Every four trips around the figure-eight the moon does a double loop around one of the ‘lobes’ of the figure-eight, taking an extra 7 days. These figure-eights process around marking out a circle in the heavens, taking a half a year to complete a full circle. Also, the Moon changes phases as it spins, taking 21 days to go from new moon to full to old moon. The reasons for this are described in SM05 The Worldguide to Barnaynia.
It is these bizarre movements that define the weeks, festivals, months and years, in combination with the Sun’s daily orbit and yearly oscillation from its highest (Midsummer) to its lowest (Midwinter).
While the week, as a standard unit of time, is used throughout the world, the significance and names of the days vary widely. Likewise, there is no “weekend” and few workers will get a day off, although many stop work or close their shops early on some days, even during festivals. The names of the days are as follows and are deliberately designed to look familiar. But be aware that the Dwarves and the Grey Elves do not recognise weeks, as such, and instead have different names for every day of the month. Gnomes do not celebrate the Festivals apart from the Spring Equinox, but instead just use the extra circular-orbits of the Moon as normal weeks. Gnomes do take a day off at the start of the month and have many unusual and often inconsistent Holy Days celebrated with knife-fighting.
Moonday is the start of the week in Dunromin, although some religions disagree with this. It is a Holy Day for the Olympians and is seen as the most favourable day to cast powerful magic – Olympian Clerics will avoid casting spells of 5th level or more on other days if they can avoid it. Because of the Moon’s association with Magic this is a very important day for the Black Magic Guild and if it is also a full moon they are likely to have quite a party. The Magic College recognises this as the most important day of the week too and all ceremonies and important meetings there will be scheduled for a Moonday. There is a tradition among some of the city to not answer the door to visitors on this day, but the origins of this practice are confused. Followers of the Celtic Temple may paint a white circle on their forehead, or paint their whole face white, or wear a white headscarf or mask on this day, as a symbol of their respect for the Moon. Many clothiers, cloth-makers and weavers will stop work at Noon, except the Mill.
Two’s Day is the second day of the week and is uniformly recognised as a day of serious business. This day is not a holy day for any religion and even during festivals it is a day when celebrations are set aside to ensure the necessary work has been don. It is the first day of the Festival Fayre (see below). Schools and colleges, including the Great Library and the library at the Magic College, close on this day to allow the students to help their family businesses. For the (non-grey) Elves this is a day of significance and many traditional elves will fast on this day from midnight to midnight. In the Circus this is also known as Dog Night as in the evening a circular track is marketed out for dog racing and a pit for fighting dogs or bear-baiting is opened. Big racing events will be scheduled for this day, including horse racing in Shantytown.
Odin’s Day is a holy day for the Norse temple and, since the Royal Family are Norse worshippers, this is the name of the day most commonly used. The Norse belief is that this is a day for important meetings and big decisions, a fashion copied by many merchant groups. The City Counsel meet on this day every week and it is the day when Baron’s pay their tributes; that is on the Odin’s day closest to the anniversary of their being made a Baron. The Celts call it Hunting Day and it is their tradition to only eat venison, hare or similar meat and no farmed produce on this day, only hunted or gathered foodstuffs. Most of Dunromin also refer to it as Wedding Day as it is traditional to get married on this day among the Norse, Babylonians, Heliopeans, Olympians and several minor Cults. Boatyards, Carters, Blacksmiths and Farriers do not work on this day.
Thor’s Day is also named by the Norse and it is a day for celebrating. Most Norse worshippers will visit the temple on this day and get drunk in the evening, or at least celebrate something or other. The Celts, Heliopeans, Olympians, Babylonians and non-humans see nothing special about this day. All fish shops, slaughterhouses, meat shops and butchers will close at noon on this day. The afternoon is the time when serious spectator events are held at the Circus. Although there are plays, minor fights and gambling events there most days, this day of the week is a time when high-stakes fights are fought or exotic beasts are pitched against each other.
Known as Fish Day or For Selling Day, this day is always a Market Day across the Land of the Young. While most towns and the city have the markets open almost every day, on this day things are particularly busy in the city as it is the day when local villagers and specialist suppliers travel into the city to buy and sell things not available to them locally. Like Twos Day this day is also maintained by the Merchants’ Guild as a business day for all members and no Trades Guild in the city is allowed to make this as a day of rest. It is traditional for Norse and Celts to eat fish on this day too and the tradition of frying fish on open grills and eating them with deep-fried potato slices and mashed peas is common all across the city on this day. As a result, this day is most commonly known as Fryday.
For The Sitting Day there is a tradition of spending time with the young and the elderly and of being peaceful. Any trade involving weapons or fighting (armourers, weaponsmiths, the Fighters’ Guild and the combative sports in the Circus) will not work or do business on this day. All schools and colleges will close at noon and apprentices are usually given the afternoon off. The evening meal for most citizens will be a time of gathering for stories and exchanging news, often followed or mixed with visiting the Inn. In good weather neighbours and even entire streets will have their evening meal together in the open air. Jewellers, money-changers and the like will close at noon. The Babylonians see this day as holy and will fast from dawn until dusk, meeting at the temple for a ceremony after dark. For the Olympians this is the Day of Legends and they will all wear a head-scarf or wreath of some kind, the evening being a time of stories and wine, or quiet contemplation.
Sunday is generally regarded as the last day of the week and is traditionally a time of endings and farewells. Journeys begun on a Sunday are seen as blessed in the Norse and Celtic belief systems. The Heliopean religion will always schedule burials for this day if possible and it is a time for many to visit the graves of family and friends. The day of the Sun is recognised by all the main temples although the Olympians call it Apollosday. For the Babylonians it is a holy day and no Babylonian cleric may work on this day, only meet in the temple for prayers and chanting from dawn until dusk. Many shops will close at noon on a Sunday, many bakers and similar businesses will be closed all day.
Thus, most weeks are the same, even during festivals, for the working classes. Those that can afford it might take a day or two off during a Festival Week to celebrate the time in a certain way, but these practices vary from temple to temple and only the pious and wealthy will devote the whole week to them. Every Festival Week will have a Fayre, starting on the Twos Day and lasting until Fryday, inclusive. This will mean the markets are open all day and many people will travel in from the villages for buying, selling and various celebrations. Throughout the Fayre all the temples will have on special events and the Circus will have all kinds of entertainments on. The King always has a feast on one of the Fayre days to which many important people are invited. Such feasts involve dancing and singing and so on. The text italicised in the following is taken from SM01 The Players’ Guide to Dunromin and has been extended on:
The Firefest (Winter Solstice) is associated with the family; the most popular practices are staying at home and spending time sharing family memories and stories, hibernating almost. Being the deepest winter, this week is usually a time when the city is quieter than normal. The Lake is almost always frozen slightly at this time of year and there is a tradition for men to joust on sleds across the ice on the Thor’s Day. Many of the city turn out to watch in the hope of seeing someone fall through the ice and drown or freeze to death. The King’s Festival Feast of this festival is the smallest of all and includes only the royalty, Guarde captains and guild masters, plus any Barons that are in town. The Babylonians have a passion for blood sacrifice and many non-human prisoners will be slaughtered in ceremonies on the Sitting Day of this week. By law these prisoners cannot be natives of the Land of the Young but it is likely some victims may slip through the net…
The Waterfest (Spring Equinox) is a celebration of Spring and delivery from Winter’s clutches. This usually involves drinking and feasting on the last of the winter’s stores. A very popular festival among the working classes as it is tradition for most businesses to shut at noon on the Sitting Day and all the people to wash themselves in the lake, baths or the docks, and then clean out their homes. They will then gather in large groups or families and have a feast as the sun goes down. It is tradition for the King to organise a Tourney at this festival as well as the feast, the two events happening on the Odin’s Day and Thor’s Day of the week. The Tournament takes place with jousting in the Upper Market (the cobbles making it most amusing for the spectators) and several melees in the Circus. The Spring Feast is always called the Spring Ball and is a time for all the society of the city to gather at the Castle (by invite only of course) and generally make matches and such. The elves and halflings avoid these martial displays and instead gather under the trees to sing and dance together through the early evening and then fall asleep under the stars reciting ancient tales and family legends. The Heliopeans celebrate the Great Flood at this festival. At the climax of the Thor’s Day celebrations all the senior members of the Heliopean Temple, as well as some specially chosen minor members, retire to the inner sanctum of the temple for the night to celebrate the creation of the world. They remain there until dawn and always reappear exhausted but with many temple issues resolved.
Earthfest (the Summer Solstice) is a deeply significant time for all religions as it represents the highest sun and the longest day. From here on things start to get colder and darker. It is a time when festivals of self-sacrifice and pious celebration are enacted; long evenings of meditation, journeys to special places for silent vigils and such. On the Sun Day the King will pass amongst the poor handing out presents to individuals nominated by the Guildmasters for acts of generosity or kindness through the year. It is expected that all the nations knights and Barons will visit the city this week as well to renew their fealty to the king, many paying their Tribute at this time as well as this is also the week when most suitable warriors are knighted and the children of dead Barons are recognised as the new Baron. There are feasts in the Castle every night but they are ceremonial affairs with formal speeches and flashy clothes, rather than just eating and drinking, except for the Odin’s Day Feast which is known as the Summer Ball. At this celebration all the eligible unmarried members of society that are invited can come, escorted by their mother, father or similar, and present themselves to the King. It sounds very grand but this just means that they parade past the royal family as they arrive; only significant individuals are actually introduced to the King or whoever is substituting for him that year. All the young men who attend this ball are expected to make themselves available in the local villages for the harvesting over the next few months. This is organised by the Merchant’s Guild and the University and is generally regarded as hard work but great fun.
The practices of the Airfest (Autumn Equinox) differ most widely. To some it’s a binge on the stores that won’t survive the winter, for others it’s a solitary time of contemplation and preparation for the harder times ahead. The graveyard has its largest flood of living visitors at this time, the colder weather keeping down the levels of disease and undead infestation normally associated with the dead. This is the big festival for the Celtic Temple. Although the various members will hunt often during the year and sometimes go quite far from the city, this week is when most of the temple and the leading followers head for the hills all together. They will journey to the Low Moors for the Great Hunt and ride across the moors for several nights seeking something entertaining to hunt – usually stags, humanoids, dire wolves or similar monsters. For the Olympians the preparation of wine is a large part of the mythology but, given that Dunromin suffers The Curse, those Olympians who can afford it travel southwards to the vineyards to be found there, some even going as far as Loom. This means the city’s population at this time is probably the lowest, although the working classes can neither afford the time nor the money for these events and will always be working. As such, the King’s Feast focuses on the Merchanting Classes that remain in the city and it is a prime time for successful businessmen to try and catch the King’s eye and promote their ideas. For the Babylonian and Heliopean Temples this is a solemn time of year and both temples are mysteriously quiet for the whole week.
As well as these regular festivals there are a number of special occasions tied to every temple and/or social groups as well. Here are some examples:
Hero’s Day – on the 13th of Sunhigh the Royal Family and the Fighters’ Guild celebrate the achievements of city heroes from history. The Fighters’ Guild members and the Royal Family take over the Circus for the day and hear stories and plays about the heroes. Any outstanding efforts or glories achieved that year will also be recognised and suitable rewards given or remembered.
Victory Day – on the 11th of Sunfall the King recognises the defeat of Kzenzakai and the deaths of many of the city at the hands of his beasts. Widows of warriors slain that day are given alms and the King will visit the memorial in the Upper Market marking the place where Kzenzakai was finally struck down.
The Call of the Wind – on the last day of Brownleaves the Celtic Temple celebrate the glories of the Great Hunt, which would have started in the Airfest Festival and should have been finished by now. Particularly successful huntsmen and those killed in the hunt will be recognised and celebrated.
Evening of the Swan – on the first day of Sunhigh, the first day after the midsummer festival, the Olympians will all come to the temple and bring gifts for the temple swans, regardless of whether the swans are present at the time or not (they tend to come and go as suits them; while the Temple does feed them, there is no space to swim or roost in the temple grounds).
The Anniversary of the Victory of Gilgamesh – 2nd Greenleaf; the Babylonian temple have a bull fight in the main temple hall, often with several bulls and various naked priests and acolytes armed only with clubs. It is a very chaotic and dangerous event. The dead bulls are then jointed and the meat shared among the temple members for a meal that night. The dead priests are honoured appropriately.
Bloody Sunday – 7th Flowering; the Babylonian men will beat their heads with especially blessed planks of wood for an hour. Bleeding and feinting are seen as signs of great piety.
The Night of Stone – 20th Fireseek; all the dwarves in the city will sit in their temple and chant the old sagas until midnight. This is quite a wonderful sound and is followed by riotous drinking.
And so on…
So, there you have it – a glimpse of some of the kinds of things that go on in Dunromin that might serve to add colour and distraction to your campaign. Those fans of utterly immersive play may wish to continue such practices even while on campaign and the GM is of course free to invent even more special days and ceremonies to the calendar as they see fit. Dunromin is an extraordinary place so ANYTHING might be going on at any time!