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Annual Festivals


The Changing of the Year

Celebrations of which one is most often a witness to is the changing of a year. Chronologically, although year numbers or names vary from area to area and from city to city, there is pretty much consensus on the layout of the year as far as where it begins, ends and how it is divided.

There are essentially two major calendars on Gor: that which is used in Ar and most of the North including Torvaldsland; and that which is called the "Turian" calendar, which would be more likely used in the southernmost cities of Gor. The fact is that while we find passages mentioning areas which use what we will call the Ar calendar (Port Kar and Torvaldsland are mentioned) we are not specifically told of any city using the Turian calendar other than Turia.

The Waiting Hand

In preparation for the new year, Goreans spend the five days of the waiting hand bidding the old year farewell by taking part in a number of rituals which include both mourning the passing year and preparations to welcome the new year. They will fast, meditate, refrain from singing, paint their door white and attach branches of the brak bush to them in order to discourage the entry of bad luck into the house in the coming year. In Torvaldsland, the vigil of the vernal equinox is also said to be the time when the stones and columns which decorate homes are repainted.

The New Year

When this period is ended, on the day of the vernal equinox, (or the summer solstice in the south), they begin celebrating the New Year and will do so for ten days with as much splendor as can be afforded. Aside from the expected festivities, cities will have fairs, games, tournaments and carnival-type events, their flavor and color depending on culture and location. In Port Kar, for example, the New Year celebrations and festivals include a "Procession to the Sea," which takes place on the first of En'Kara, the Gorean New Year.

Sardar Fairs

The Gorean equivalent of the World's Fair on Earth, these are four huge trade fairs which are held quarterly in the shadow of the Sardar Mountain range. It is said that each Gorean must, before the age of 25, journey to the Sardar Mountains to honor the Priest-Kings. For most of the Goreans who honor this tradition, one of the four annual fairs held at the foot of the Sardar will be the time chosen to fulfill this expectation.

They typically last ten full days (plus at least that long for set up and break down) and are scheduled to coincide with the solstices and equinoxes:

The Fair of En'Kara (March 21st-March 30th)
The Fair of En`Var (June 19th-June 28th)
The Fair of Se`Kara (September 22nd-October 1st)
The Fair of Se`Var (December 21st-December 30th)

Other Festivals Throughout the Year

The Return to Turia

The last day of the Second Hand of En'Kara (March 30th) is traditionally the day which marks the beginning of The Season of Little Grass for the Wagon Peoples. Shortly thereafter, they begin the long trek from their winter pastures back to Turia.

The Planting Feast of Sa-Tarna

This complex feast is celebrated by most Gorean cities early during the growing season, and believed by many to ensure a plentiful harvest for the year ahead. Numerous rituals are performed during the three days of the feast (April 16th-18th) by members of the Caste of Initiates and members of each of the five high castes perform their own part of the ceremony during that three-day period. Most of these rituals consist of sacrifices or prayers to the Priest-Kings conducted in the presence of the city Home Stone. On the final eve of the feast, the Home Stone is placed beneath the sky, typically atop the tallest cylinder in the city, and sprinkled with sa-tarna grain and ka-la-na wine by a dignitary of the city, often the Administrator, Ubar, or a member of the ruling family.

Games of Love War

The Wagon Peoples compete against the warriors of Turia on the Plain of Stakes during the Second Passage Hand (May 15th-19th) in mid-spring, participating in various challenges and ceremonial-combats in order to exchange free women for slaves.

The Omen Year (Decade Festival)

Every ten years, the Wagon Peoples halt their annual trek past Turia and various omens are divined by their haruspexes regarding the future of the tribes and the safety of the bosk. It is also divined as to whether it is favorable to choose a One Ubar, or Ubar-San. This ceremony typically occurs in late spring, sometime during the month of Camerius. The Omen Year actually lasts the time of a season.

During this time, the tribes of the southern plains who are habitually at war with each other, live in what appears to be semi-harmony. The contests of skills and wagers are taken with much enthusiasm and competitive spirit. During this time, it is good form and acceptable sport to take from the other tribes as much as one can, under the peaceful air of truce, of course.

Turian New Year

The peoples of Turia and certain other southern regions officially celebrate their own new year on the day of the summer solstice (June 21st). A ten-day period of revelry follows, similar to the New Year celebrations in northern cities.

Kajuralia

"The Festival of Slaves" is held in most Gorean cities (except Port Kar, where it is not celebrated at all) on the last day of the Twelfth Passage Hand (March 15th). In Ar, it is celebrated on the last day of the fifth month (August 12th), the day which precedes the Love Feast.

Upon this day, slaves may take liberties which are otherwise not permitted them during the year, including the drinking of wine and liquor, the freedom to roam at will (provided of course they do not attempt to escape from their owners permanently), the freedom to choose their own sexual partners and to couch with slaves of the opposite sex whom they find attractive, temporary suspension of all work and duties, and even the opportunity to play (minor) tricks and practical jokes upon free persons.

After the twentieth ahn, however, they are expected to be back in their respective kennels and slave quarters to resume the services required by their bonded status. Slaves who "go renegade" during Kajuralia are typically punished severely if recaptured and are often executed for such an offense.

Love Feast

This is a five-day celebration within Ar, held during the Fifth Passage Hand (August 13th-17th). It is a time wherein many slaves are sold> The fourth day of the Love Feast (August 16th) is typically considered the climax of the festival in regard to the sale of slaves. The fifth day (August 17th) is normally reserved for great contests and spectacles in the Stadium of Blades, grand races in the Stadium of Tarns, great kaissa championships and general celebratory feasting.

The Passing of Turia

The herds of the Wagon peoples traditionally pass closest to the city of Turia on or around the Second Hand of Se`Kara (September 22nd-26th).

Festival of the 25th of Se`Kara

An annual Festival held in Port Kar to celebrate their great naval victory over the combined fleets of Cos and Tyros (October 11th).

Feast of Fools

This is a festival celebrated in some Gorean cities on the last day of the Third Hand of the eighth Gorean month (October 31st). It is similar in many respects to the southern festival known as Carnival, except it lasts only for the period of one night. It is also known as the "Festival of the Cities of Dust," in homage to the spirits of the deceased who died during the last year.

The Thing

An annual celebration held in Torvaldsland, during which all of the shield men of the various great jarls travel to the hall of their particular leader, submit their weaponry for inspection, and formally repledge their oaths of loyalty. The Thing usually occupies a span of from three to five days and occurs sometime during the middle of the ninth Gorean month (mid-November), varying according to such factors as weather and the current political situation.

The Thing-Fair is held by the high jarl of a given territory for all his men to attend, and serves as well as a gathering of Northerners from areas beyond the jarl's territory. The one and only occurrence of a Thing-Fair the reader happens upon is found in the pages of Marauders of Gor and appears to be set in late spring (if one uses the clues given about the growth of fall sa-tarna and the access to water for visiting ships).

It is not said whether or not this festival is related to a specific annual event or seasonal time, though some of the games and events held at the fair would not be possible in winter time with the waters frozen. Furthermore, as we are told the ships are put away for the winter months and taken out of the sheds in the spring, attendance to the fair by as many as is read about would not be likely.

What we do know is that the Thing-Fair is an event that all free men MUST attend unless they are alone, needing to stay on their land to tend to it. They know that during this fair they will present their weapons for inspection to one of their jarl's officers; that there exists a set of rules and laws which pertain to what may or may not happen within the perimeter of the fair; and that this law extends over the entire duration of the Thing and seems to supersede other existing laws for that time.

The general feel of the Thing-Fair may well remind the reader of the fairs at the Sardar, in that the Fair is considered to be a peaceful event. Though the men of Torvaldsland would never consider it acceptable to move about unarmed, use of weapons and bloodshed for other than contests and settlements under what the reader learns is called the "law of the Thing" are forbidden and will have to wait until after the event.

The Wintering

The nomadic herds of the Wagon Peoples typically occupy their winter pastures during the period from the middle of the ninth Gorean month (late November) through the Second Hand of En'Kara (late March).

New Year

The day of the winter solstice (December 21st) is celebrated by the Wagon Peoples as the first day of the new year, and marks the beginning of The Season of Snows. In addition, the women of the Wagon Peoples keep a calendar of their own, based upon the phases of the largest of the three Gorean moons. It consists of fifteen separate divisions, each named after one of the fifteen different kinds of bosk, for instance: "The Moon of the Brown Bosk," "The Moon of the Spotted Bosk," etc.

Carnival

Carnival is held in many southern cities, notably Port Kar, during the five days of the Twelfth Passage Hand (March 11th-15th). During this celebration, it is often customary to garb oneself in outlandish costumes or masks and attend various masquerade fetes and feasts. Celebrated in most Gorean cities on the last week of the year, the 12th passage hand, Carnival is reminiscent of Earth Mardi Gras events.

During this week of theater, performers and entertainers, a number of opportunities arise to use the cover of a mask and disguise. It allows exploration and participation in certain games of the nature which allows a certain level of freedom, which is otherwise looked at as improper, especially for women. One such game is the game of favors, a race in which free women must hand out ten scarves that are, in turn, traded for kisses.

The Rencers

For rence growers, the first of Se'Kara, the date of the autumnal equinox, is a time of festival. By that time, most of the year's rence will have been cut, and great stocks of rence paper, gathered in rolls like cord wood, and covered with woven rence mats, will have been prepared.

The Fest-Season of Odin

Celebrated in the fall around the vernal equinox in the Torvaldsland, this is the North's new year. Religious runes are repainted by rune-priests.

Harvest Fests

As the name would indicate, these are festivals, celebrations and various rituals which are performed late in the growing season, at the time of harvest. In a world where the peasant is said to be "the ox on which the Home Stone rests," one would be likely to find many rituals based on the growing and harvesting of various crops. What will also be common in many of the tribal cultures are the ritual feasts that follow the harvest of meat, the hunt.

Many of these festivals will carry the local culture in terms of their timing and the events that will occur during that time. The harvest festivals of rencers, the Red Savages festivals and the Harvest Fest in Torvaldsland would all be quite different from each other.




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