Yulevri: (15th of Cylus)
The holiday of Yulevri is a time honored tradition that has helped many people survive the dark and cold of Cylus without losing hope. Yulevri is a celebration that is dedicated to reminding people that the long winter is nearly over.
It is expected for loved ones to exchange gifts and typically there will be feasting outdoors. Most villages and cities will host at least one public outdoor feast beneath tents or around campfires. Most food at public Yulevri celebrations comes in the form of a hearty stew along with a thick slice of fresh bread. Even the poor are invited to partake in these public feasts because all Melrathi believe that no one should be hungry on the night of Yulevri.
The Noble Houses and other wealthy families tend to enjoy finer fare such as delicate seafood bisques along with honeyed and roasted winter vegetables.
Melrathi also take this chance to decorate their homes and towns with garlands made from evergreen branches. It is custom to also make candied pears to gift to your dearest friends and spouses.
Ullried: (1th of Ashan)
The first trial of spring is especially sacred to the people who live in the Wilds of Melrath, as well as the citizens of Vorkund. On this trial people celebrate the return of warmth and life by hosting a hunt with fellow family members and loved ones. The Hunter's Holiday as it is sometimes called is when the hunters of Melarth go out into the wilderness to bring home the first kills of spring. Hunters will wake before sunrise in order to get an early start in order to have the best chance at finding game in the wilds. It is high discouraged on this trial for hunters to kill pregnant female animals, and are instead directed only to hunt the males of whatever quarry they are seeking. This is to ensure that the animal population is still able to successfully reproduce. It also works to cull male populations so to keep large herd animals from becoming overpopulated.
Hunters are allowed to make three kills each of whatever animal they wish, as to ensure that the culling is not too extreme. Hunters often prefer to carefully choose their three targets so they will be as impressive as possible. This tends to result in larger and older male quarry being chosen. The Ullried hunt concludes at sundown when the spoils of the hunt are brought home to be cleaned and prepared for a feast the following trial. It is during this time that kills are compared and the hunters sit around fires telling stories and enjoying themselves. Hunters who bring home the most impressive kills in a family are always rewarded with the best cuts of meat the following trial along with copious amounts of their favorite beer, or wine during the feasts.
Hesterfor:(12th of Ymiden through the 22nd)
Coming of age is incredibly important to all Melrathi when they become fifteen arcs old. It is on the 12th of Ymiden through the 22nd that all local settlements host a competition that stretches over ten full trials. During these ten trials young Melrathi who are either approaching their fifteenth birthtrial or will be doing so later that arc are permitted to compete. There are several accolades that a youngster can earn during Hesterfor.
There are several trials that a child can compete in so to gain honors amongst their seniors and peers. It is not required that a youngster compete in Hesterfor however doing well in the trials always brings honor to their family and aids them in earning apprenticeships and jobs.
Trial of the Lady
The Trial of the Lady is composed of three tests which embody the elements of Myrkvior; the Dark Mother of the Forest. Those who share in the ideals associated with her often end up finding that they can quite happily work as healers, scholars, or even soldiers. Children who do well in all three tests are granted a pewter ring with a small pale moonstone at its center as a reward. This piece of ornamentation is sacred and highly valued across Melrath. It is seen as a sign of a tactical and gifted thinker.
Test of the Mind:
This test is always given by a local Aesir who will ask children to answer questions after listening to a story or a riddle that they tell them. Each arc the test is different for every group of children but always the Aesir given the test cares less about if the child is correct but more that they can think critically and for themselves. In essence,they prefer children who can make well reasoned arguments for why their answer is correct.
Test of Life:
The test of life deals in the skills associated with healing. An Aesir Druid always conducts the Test of Life. Children are allowed to display their skills however they wish, either by mixing medicine, showing their skill at sutchering, or even demonstrating their ability in binding and dressing wounds.
Test of Ferocity:
The Test of Ferocity is always a trial by melee combat between young Melrath. They may use whatever blunted weapons they wish (or simply their fists) but this test itself is as simple as they come. Any weapon or tool is permitted so long as it is not used with lethal force. It is perfectly legal to bruise and batter your opponent but all Tests of Ferocity are ended at first blood or when a person yields. This Test is most commonly treated as a spectacle by the people of Melrath. When this test is conducted in Raelia it is often held in impressive venues where a crowd is able to gather and watch.
Trial of the Mountain:
The Trial of the Mountain is customarily given by a member of Ydalir rangers and the Tests are all related to the ideals associated with Ymir, the Mountain Induk. Those who do well in the Trial of the Mountain tend to become hunters, survivalists, or craftsmen. Youngsters who do especially well in all these tests are granted a copper ring with a small dark red garnet at its core. This ring is seen as sacred and highly valued across Melrath. The ornament is associated with wise, skilled, and especially patient individuals.
Test of Resolve:
Those who embody the attributes of the Mountain Induk must have within them the resolve to keep moving forward no matter the difficulties they may face. This test is always given by a local ranger who takes a small group of youngsters into the wilderness where they must survive on their on for the length of two full trials. They must find clean water, and find food as well during this time. It is permitted for them to work together, however the ranger is always watching from the shadows and will be sure to note who does most of the work and who does not.
Test of Craft:
The Test of Craft is for those who are known to create useful and wondrous objects with their hands. Many children will seek to complete this Test by submitting craft work that they have completed. This could include woodworking, needlecraft, smithing, glassblowing, or any other highly desired talent that leads to the creation of especially useful objects. Many master craftsmen will attend these Tests to see the youngster’s work and to offer apprenticeships to the most talented children.
Test of the Hunt:
Young hunters always seek out this particular test with excitement and vigor. In small groups of two or three, children are led into the Wilds by a Ydalir ranger who will watch as the children conduct a hunt for a creature of the wilderness. The kill must be made cleanly and quickly, otherwise the Ranger will finish the hunt for them to ensure that no animal suffers longer than needed. Those who cannot complete their hunt or who do not make a clean kill are often taunted for their failure by the other competitors. Failing to finish the Test of the Hunt is seen as bringing shame upon yourself and your family. On more than one occasion children have simply run away from home in failing the test.
Trial of the River
The Induk of the River is as much an enigma as he is childlike and fun loving. Vynmur is considered by many to be the Wise Fool, an entity who knows many secrets but shares them only with a few. It is because of this that he has been associated with skills and arts that are some of the rarest among the Melrathi. Those who succeed in his Tests are known to become artists, dancers, actors, animal trainers, and even most rarely...Aesir. Children who do well in each of these Trials are given an iron ring with a sphere of turquoise at it's center. This ring is seen as sacred and highly valued across Melrath. The ornament is associated with intuitive, talented, spiritual individuals.
Test of Spirit:
The Test of Spirit is rarely even attempted by youngsters, and it’s even rarer for a child to show an aptitude for communing with the spirits. However an Aesir Shaman always attends local Hesterfor celebration in order to observe and conduct any Tests. The Test always consists of the children being brought into contact with an Anak. They must then show that they possess an understanding of the spirit and it’s concept. Those who are especially gifted also show early signs to manifesting spiritual empathy in that they have an almost supernatural understanding of spirits and how they reflect the balance of the world at large.
Test of the Arts:
The Test of the Arts is probably the most fun and enjoyable to watch. Youngsters are brought forward to display their talents in things such as music, painting, theater, and even debate. Typically the children of wealthy parents do well in this Test since many have had tutors for years teaching them these skills. However there are always those two are truly gifted in art no matter their economic background that use this Test to display their talents.
Test of Bonds:
Aptly named, the Test of Bonds hosts those of the youth who have a skill with training animals and working with animals. Animal trainers, breeders, and groomers will always come to this Test with their most trusted animals at their side to display their proficiency in working with the creatures. Stable masters and animal breeders will normally observe this particular test to assess which of the children deserve an apprenticeship or job with them once they have come of age.
Odinar (40th of Saun)
Held on the 40th of Saun, this hallowed day of heroes stands as a time when people remember fallen soldiers and celebrate those who still live and defend the nation. Ragnari and other notable and brave warriors are typically given rewards and accolades by the locals. This can include a bit of jewelry or even something as simple as a laurel wreath to wear on their heads. At night however the most highly regarded soldiers and fighters are anointed with new tattoos by a local member of the Aesir. Each tattoo is representative of the Melrath Induk the warrior shares the most traits with. Clever soldiers will find themselves tattooed with the shapes of leaves and foxes for Myrkvior, Steadfast men and women might find themselves marked with images of the Mountain Induk, where as intuitive and spiritual warriors will wear the markings of the serpent Vynmur.
Svarielle (60th of Vhalar):
The Holiday of Svarielle is perhaps the nearest and dearest to the Melrathi people. This day and night of celebration takes place on the 60th of Vhalar, beginning at dawn and then ending at dawn the following trial. During the daylight hours Melrathi spend the entire day enjoying feasts and festivals. This part of the holiday is sometimes called the Harvest Festival as the bounty collected from the first harvests is often used to supply all of the feasting.
Food such as meat pies, candied apples, and cinnamon buns are common festival fare. Large wealthy families tend to host their own private gatherings where chefs will prepare whole roasted boars and Melrathi delicacies such as sugared flowers and dried figs.
At sunset is when the celebratory nature of Svarielle becomes far more somber. This part of day is known as the Calling. The feasting ends and everyone will fast until dawn the following day. During the night it is common for locals to paint and release their own paper lanterns as a way to call the spirits of their ancestors home in order to share in the holiday and spend time with the living. After sundown on Svarielle is when Melrathi believe that the veil between this world and the Beneath thins, and the spirits of their dead are able to return home for the night.
Food is left out in tribute for the ancestors and family members with deceased loved ones will often sit outdoors all night talking of those they have lost in the hope that their spirits are there listening to their stories.
Many stay up all night sharing fond stories of those they have lost until the sun rises. At dawn the fast is broken by drinking a glass of either ale, beer, or wine in a gesture of honor to the spirits who have returned to the Beneath for another arc.
Note: For some reason Anak are far more common on this night. Some believe it is due to the thinning of the barrier between worlds.
Valhalea(1st of Zi’da):
Observed across the entirety of Melrath, Valhalea is the trial when the Induks and spirits of the kingdom are especially celebrated just as the first true snows set in. Just as the hills, mountains, and streams turn white with ice, people will light bonfires this night across the entire nation. In the dark of winter, with only the light of their fires to guard them from the shadows, the Melrathi experience a beautiful event known only to locals as ‘Spiritrise’.
During the entire night of the first of Zi’da the night sky becomes filled with thousands of lights as the pale silvery spirits of the air come forth to be seen by those below.
Within the waters of Melrath dance the spirits of water somehow reveal themselves in all their glory. Anak of water, rain, and all other forms can be seen swirling around the waters of the coast and all through the Vynmur River. The Induk Vynmur himself will even appear to mortal eyes in his bright luminescent blue serpent form to dance across the surface of his domain.
Anak of the forest appear as flickering motes of emerald and amber light which drift through Myrkvior Forest like fireflies. Myrkvior herself will even reveal herself to a few lucky mortals although her encounters are always quite brief, and she always appears in the form of a large white fox.
In the mountains of Melrath spirits of the earth, winds, and water dance through the air as well. Ymir like his cousins will also appear in his earthen form to the people of Vorkund, although he never speaks, he only honors the people on the mountain with his presence. Mortals will find that while they can observe the spirits they cannot touch them on this night.
During the night people will give offerings either symbolic or literal to the Anak and Induk of their world. Those who adore Myrkvior will bring gifts into her forest, such as planting saplings or giving food to the local wildlife. Ymir’s followers may leave gifts of food or even treasured tools and hunting weapons on the mountain’s slopes in offering. Vynmur’s might softly speak their darkest secrets over his waters, or write them down and cast them into his domain.
Each ritual is unique to each mortal, however they are all given freely to strengthen the spirits of their world.
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