Alksheist has many holidays, including the celebration of the equinoxes, the solstices, and the new year. Alluum celebrates many of these holidays, and Evercrest Academy recognizes these holidays and allows students to break for celebration. Even family holidays can be granted leave with the proper paperwork.
Creation day is a celebration of the new year that takes place on the first day of the year. Ancient myth of the first gods tells that this is the day Alksheist was created and time began. The first of every year is celebrated with parties by the vast majority of Alksheist. Most people don't hold the old faith to heart. To those who do believe in the gods of old, Creation Day is a very spiritual day of offerings, meditation, and feasts to the prosperity of a new year.
Different followings of different gods do celebrate slightly differently. There are three gods considered to be the "first gods": Laresin, Shali and Tiput.
Those who follow Laresin, the god of light, often celebrate in the light of Laresin's namesake moon. There is a lot of fire; many mages who are skilled in the fire element put on excellent shows, generally about Laresin's part in the origin of time. Air mages will also come out to help with the ceremonial lighting of paper lanterns. The air mage uses their magic to carry the lanterns up "to Laresin".
Generally, Laresin's gatherings happen in the Bemol Plains and these lanterns can be seen for days afterward, floating around Xidwin. Ceremonial chanting by mages and dancing by nonmagics usually follows the feast, which used to consist of the torso of a male lich dragon. This tradition has mostly been discarded by the masses, but some people are known to hunt down a male lich for Creation Day. It's not illegal, it's just most people are opposed to eating a dragon (and later having the bioluminescent luciferon in the dragon's wings poured all over them for the dancing). The dancing / chanting ceremony is used to bestow Laresin's blessing upon all who are present. The dancing nonmagics are believed to enhance the magical chants of the mages, and it is also used so that Laresin–a god typically portrayed as a magical drow–will notice them and bestow them his blessing.
Usually after the dancing, most people will travel to their homes to meditate on their experience and personally ask for Laresin's blessing. Those who stay generally continue making merry until they eventually wear out and pass out in the fields around Xidwin.
Shali is the god of darkness, often regarded as an evil god by those who are outsiders to the religion. However, those who follow the old religion regard Shali as the god of renewal. Many skygge and drows are devoted followers of Shali and their Creation Days are spent meditating in the forests and marshes around Alluum. Their meditation often takes place in the water (if it's not too cold) or around the water on colder Creation Days. Until Shali's moon rises, the meditation is silent, but once the moon is in the sky, they begin chanting prayers in Polturranen (or in Alluumnian if they do not know the ancient tongue). On Creation Days, the forests and marshes around Alluum are abuzz with the chants of Shali followers. Come sunrise, the meditation stops and the followers feast. Generally, their feast consists of seafood, fruits and vegetables.
After the feast, Shali followers head home. Some will eat a special flower–fittingly named Shali's rose–to give them visions from Shali. It is said those who chant their prayers the loudest will receive a vision from Shali if they consume his flower. Most do not get visions, but those who do often have startlingly accurate dreams of the future.
Tiput is the god of all gods and often referred to as The King. He keeps a watchful eye on all of Alksheist, which is why his moon is the only one that phases in and out of the sky. Laresin and Shali are said to be dormant, which is why their moons are only seen in the southern hemisphere. The followers of Tiput only celebrate Creation Day when Tiput's moon is full in the sky or not in the sky at all. If it is waxing or waning, the followers usually partake in the common rabble's Creation Day celebrations or sit in their houses... very lonely indeed.
Tiput's celebration on a new moon is loud. The followers of Tiput gather on the Alluumnian mountain ranges and scream their sins at Tiput, begging to be forgiven. Generally, these confessions are in Polturranen. Mages will scream at the sky, putting magic into every word, until they pass out from magical exhaustion. More than one mage dies on new moon Creation Days -- those that do are considered to be trapped on Alksheist forever and unable to travel into the spirit realm since Tiput locked them out for being "unworthy". There are no feasts to Tiput's followers on a new moon Creation Day. It is followed by three days of fasting and meditation. It is customary on the following days to write every sin on a piece of paper for every hour for each of the three days. These sins are hung on the door to the home for all to see -- the masses need to forgive before Tiput does. Most people don't even read the papers, but the unlucky crusaders and sorcerers that act as Alluum's police force have to read them; just in case the person, say, murdered someone.
On the full moon, Tiput's followers run from their home city to eventually congregate around the Sidways. They stay at the base of the mountains. Ancient tradition was for a mass hunt to happen, but, today, usually people bring their own food with them. Some people still do go all-out with their spears and battle axes to take down their food, though. Then, comes the cooking of the food, screaming, and dancing. Most of the screams are something along the lines of, "Hail Tiput!" or "The King is here!" while they dance around the meal being cooked. Once the food is finished, there are reenactments of Tiput's creation story, often told in skits rather than in magic. The story of the birth of Laresin and Shali is the only story constantly told in magic; a fire mage and earth mage working together to make the scene really come to life. The rest of the stories are told by interpretive dance, skits or very talented storytellers. Then, the band eats. The children are sent on what can be considered a snipe hunt into the mountains; their goal is to steal a golden egg from a lich dragon. An adult will accompany them to make sure they aren't eaten by a dragon, and to make sure the kids don't get lost. When the children are safely out of the way, then the adults in the gathering will generally have an orgy in Tiput's honor. To them, Tiput is right there with them, and it's the making of life in his glory. Being conceived on a full moon Creation Day is a huge honor among Tiput followers, and they are often regarded as very special and talented people who have Tiput's blessing throughout their lives. After the orgy, the adults either sleep in the grass or wait up for their children. The children usually end up sleeping on the mountains and come back to their parents a little after sunrise. If their parents are among the naked passed out grown-ups, they often have to shake them awake with a lot of "ew"s. Then, everyone heads home and are somewhat upset that Creation Day can't be on a full moon every year.
Day of the Three Goddesses
The three goddesses have their own day to themselves. It is similar to Christmas here on Earth. Gifts are exchanged, holiday cheer is palpable, but the reason behind it is quite sinister. The three goddesses of Alluum are in charge of fate itself; there is the goddess of the spirit realm, of order and of chaos. They are often considered to be the driving force behind andzkin (dragon rider) pairings. This is where the saying "the three goddesses and their twisted sense of humor!" comes from.
The legend of the Day of the Three Goddesses is generally told on that day. Annika, the goddess of chaos, was dipping her big toe into the Waters of Alksheist, causing a stir in Egivelyn that eventually led to the twenty-one elven tribes there. Rona, the goddess of order, was trying to still the water with her magic, but Annika kept causing ripples in the water. Eventually, this led to a large argument between the sister goddesses and the Waters were turned over, spilling all across their spirit realm castle. Andri, the goddess of the spirit realm, was infuriated. She restored the Waters to their tranquil state, but one of Annika's toe hairs had fallen onto Egivelyn and was stuck to the land. The piece of the chaos goddess being in reality would cause nothing but trouble across the face of Alksheist. Rona said that there would never be hope for Egivelyn, but she explained that if there were one day of order and kindness a year, then chaos would not spread.
The Three left the spirit realm to announce to all of Alksheist that DATE would be the Day of the Three Goddesses. They demanded kindness in the form of gift and food exchanges, and order by prohibiting any labor of the body or mind happening on their day. There would be no fighting on their day, or chaos would spread throughout Alksheist.
This day is observed throughout the whole of the world (except Egivelyn). Even Zann stops its vicious military for this day, fearing that the goddesses will destroy them if they do not honor the deities' wishes.
The solstices are when the season officially changes to winter or summer. It does differ from year to year, since Alksheist's orbit is more elliptical than Earth's, but they are usually within the same week. The summer solstice happens between the seventh and fourteenth of MONTH, and the winter solstice happens between the third and tenth of MONTH. The solstices are traditional holidays and not observed by the Church of Alluum. Evercrest does get out for the solstices, although most of the rest of Alluum doesn't.
Those who do celebrate the solstices (besides Evercrest) are followers of the old religion. The summer solstice's reigning god is Laresin, and the celebration is typically held with feasts of grainy foods and firey offerings to the god of light. Generally, these celebrations take place on the few crop farms around Alluum, and there are hired mages and nonmagics alike to perform parlor tricks and skits about how great summer is going to be. There are spells cast over the land to make it fertile and yield many crops for the nation. The celebrations generally last three days, while the sun is at its highest, and they're almost like carnivals. Even people who are part of the Church will go for some of the traditional fair foods and to watch some of the skits during the summer solstice.
The winter solstice honors Shali and the dead. The celebrations involve feasts of breads and long periods of meditation. For three days, the sun rises at its lowest point. On the fourth day, when the days begin to grow longer, the real celebrations begin. There are reenactments of Shali, spirit readings, and fair foods and skits. The more exciting part of the winter solstice celebrations also lasts three days; on the fourth day, it is Creation Day and a whole new creature.
At Evercrest, the summer solstice is celebrated with a party that is traditionally hosted by the erasers. For the students who don't leave campus, their summer solstice celebrations are a single day of wild partying, the resulting hangover and regrets, and then it's back to the same old routine. The winter solstice is treated differently. School is out for the Day of the Three Goddesses through Creation Day, and the winter solstice falls between these two holidays. During this time, the campus is pretty quiet, but the remaining students, mentors, heads and dragons usually have a wild time up until the student body returns.
The equinoxes are when spring and fall are officially welcomed into Alluum. Like the solstices, the equinoxes do differ on their dates, but the variation in dates are often two to three weeks away from each other. The spring equinox generally occurs in the middle or end of MONTH, while the fall equinox usually happens at the end of Mino or the beginning of MONTH. Also like the solstices, the Church of Alluum does not recognize the equinoxes as holidays, but Evercrest and select places around Alluum are shut down for the day.
The spring equinox honors Iniva, the goddess of the earth. Celebrations for the spring equinox typically happen at crop farms and involve mages melting snow into useable water for the field. The field is generally cleared of snow, and, depending on the crop, the field will be tilled and planted. Afterward is a meal of breads, and also any game animals that are shot down. The ceremony of bestowing Iniva's blessing on the field usually lasts only a single night and involves throwing chunks of bread onto the field, along with mages' spells and nonmagics' chants to Iniva. Afterward, people go home.
The fall equinox honors Zhni, the goddess of color. Zhni is credited with giving the fall foliage its color, along with filling fruits with their sweet nectar. Celebrations for the fall equinox generally involve painting yourself in fall colors (nude, of course) and helping to harvest the plants. After the food is picked, there is a large feast honoring the harvest, dancing, and thanking Iniva for her blessing upon the field. Paints are often made from plants in the field, put into balloons (traditionally pigs' bladders) and having a game where you throw paint-filled balloons at each other. The festivities last for days and involve all sorts of color. There are art fairs, competitions and all kinds of activities that involve anything creative and colorful.
Evercrest's spring harvest is celebrated with an eraser party, and is much like the summer solstice. The fall equinox is ran a little differently; there are parties, art shows, dragon races, and a prize for whoever dresses the most flashingly. Dragons are also involved -- whatever dragon is painted with the most colors (tastefully!) will win a special dragony prize. There are melee battles in the Arena of Hangman's Point, and magic battles in the Pit of Silver Tower. The melee champion and magic champion will battle it out in the inner courtyard of campus for title of Zhni's Champion. On a less violent note, artisans come in all from around Alluum to offer drawing and painting lessons; how to design clothes, and all sorts of other fun things. Vendors also come and sell locally-made items from the nearby villages. Extravagant quilts and interesting foods are always available to buy, along with incredibly-colorful clothing. The celebrations usually take students out of their normal classes for a day or two before resuming normal schedule.
Dimension Celebration Day
Dimension Celebration Day is considered a holiday by the Church. Because of its lengthy name, most Alluumnians call it "Spirit Day", which is a more fitting title to the day than Dimensional Celebration Day. This is a day for families to honor their lost family members and go to church. Divines at the academy are often sent out around Alluum to help people contact their loved ones and give sermons.
It was established in 1104 DE, originally under the title of The Day of Shadows, but the name was reworked when the divine class came into being. The original day's purpose was to help angels and demons with transitioning into their new lives, and to also teach demons how to use their inter-dimensional abilities. The mages from Evercrest were often a large part of The Day of Shadows, but when it was renamed to Dimension Celebration Day, it largely became a day for the divines to do their thing.
Evercrest is rather solemn on this day, since many people there celebrate the holiday and go to the divines to speak with their lost family members. The divines usually hold a feast for the whole school to honor the holiday.
Family Ancestral Holidays
Most families in Alluum who are part of the Church have important family ancestors that they give a certain day. Most "important" family ancestors deal with Evercrest riders in the family, or important scientists, inventors or, well, anything really. Families who have no important ancestors usually still take a day off to silently hope that someone important will sprout from their family. For the first rider of a family, these days can be incredibly awkward since the day will revolve mainly around them unless they have important ancestors to honor.
Every student, mentor and class head are given a day off for their family ancestor day. They just need to inform the class head about their family's holiday, and they're cleared to go home and celebrate. These holidays can happen anytime of the year and are a lot like Thanksgiving. There is a lot of food, and sometimes families will hire a divine to bring forth the spirit of their ancestor so they can honor them.
Evercrest has its own ancestor day, which honors all of the class heads and great riders of the past, that takes place on DATE. It is a festival held by the couriers in the Gold Tower. There is a large feast, and speeches honoring the greatest riders from Evercrest. Don't worry, it's not boring! There is always a talented illusion mage who can create the stories for everyone in an illusion while the speech-giver talks about the important rider. It's a very important educational day; every "Evercrest Day" in the twelve years of attendance has different important riders to celebrate. Evercrest alumni are welcome to attend, but the holiday is generally attended only by the people at Evercrest at the time.
There's always one person who holds themself above all others, and that person at Evercrest is Kalall Formeweaver, the sorcerer class head. She has "officially" made her birthday, on the fourth of MONTH, an Evercrest holiday. Only the sorcerers actually celebrate it, but some students and mentors of other classes are drawn to the celebrations by the banners hung around the Evercrest for the celebration.
If you were to ask Kalall herself to describe her holiday, she would put it as something like this: Kalall’s birthday is a highly anticipated holiday. Everyone at the academy celebrates this special day and it is undoubtedly the most beloved holiday on all of Alksheist. Kalall requires everyone on campus to wear a red feather in their hair as a tribute to her and her glorious life. The whole campus is magically decorated in Kalall paraphernalia, everything from stuffed animal birds to mini replica Fancy Pointy Wizard Hats and masks of Kalall’s face. The entire sorcerer class get to party in the Commons, which are specially decked out in Kalall themed food and trinkets and decorations. Kalall spends the day being pampered by lucky students who she appoints to do her bidding all day. A massive party is held in the sorcerer’s welcoming hall, and again, everything is themed around Kalall. She will appear at this party to accept the gifts and let people look at her, maybe even speak to her, if they are lucky.
Of course, everyone doesn't celebrate. Only the sorcerers have to adhere to Kalall's crazy birthday rules, and by the third or fourth year of her madness, some sorcerer students run to other class heads, begging to get out of celebrating their class head's birthday.