JOLINAR – Winter Festival
The Jolinar Festival is a week long celebration that the people have in the middle of the colder months that focuses on many aspects of life. The feasting and events are usually hosted by the wealthiest family of a region, although in capital cities and other places that are very large commities of the wealthy are formed to sponsor the event. The sponsor is responsible for holding a great feast at least once during the festival and distributing gifts to the local population. These gifts need not be elaborate and expensive, in fact most of them are tokens or simple items of everyday use. In the past, there were great sacrifices made to the gods and spirits of nature but this practice has not been used by many in recent times.
The Jolinar Festival has been a great tradition throughout the lands for as long as people remember. It has been such a significant influence on regions that even races other than humans have begun celebrating it. The origins of the festival have been lost to time, but most people speculate that in one winter, a wealthy family fed their community and gave them gifts to help them through a harsh winter. The times were so rough that the family had to keep doing it year after year. When other villages heard of this, they soon began practicing it to help their community, or to the selfish, to increase their status and show their ‘generosity’. Regardless, the practice continues to this day and has become a major factor in establishing one’s wealth and social status.
The major event of the Jolinar Festival has been the feasts. At least once during the week long event a great feast is served to the village and surrounding area. Generally, a prized animal is raised and served at the great feast, but on occasion a standard animal or animals are served up. Vegetables, fruits, breads, cheeses, and drink accompany this wonderful feast. All are welcome and encouraged to have their fill, while some extravagant feats encourage even more. Large tables are set up in the middle of towns around a roaring fire to keep the celebrants warm. The feasts are usually enjoyed in excess and it is not uncommon to find celebrants passed out in their seats the next morning, still stuffed from the previous night. In many cases, especially in wealthier cities, there are multiple nights of feasting and drinking.
Along with the feasts, there are wild nights of dancing and singing. There is always a group of bards and a dance area close to the feast, and some places have multiple areas for such activities. Randomly through the nights, people will often raise a glass to toast the sponsor of the event first and then add another toast afterwards to some loved one or great member of the community. It is considered rude to not toast the sponsor of the event at least once a feast. During these dances, many young women are voted into a court of princesses, usually the best dancers among the women. This ‘court’ is usually given a crown, mask, and simple costumes made up like the fae. This ‘court’ is then encouraged to flutter about the revelers and find a companion for the evening. If there are multiple nights of dancing, then a new person must be chosen, no one is ever suppose to ‘court’ twice in one festival.
The gifts given to all in attendance are customary and it is considered bad form to not give anything. There have been many occasions that a sponsor has given items from their homes and personal collection instead of face the public shame of not giving a gift. Those attending are encourages to let the host know they are coming so an appropriate gift may be given, but it is not necessary. Gifts range from simple horseshoes to fine jewelry and, on some occasions, a daughter to marry. There is no shame in a gift that is bad, only in not being able to give one.
The Jolinar Festival is a time to come together as a community and celebrate the finer things in life. Cold winters are ahead and this is viewed by most as a moment to forget the cares of tomorrow and indulge in the moment, because it could be the last. Women are celebrated as the mothers of the future and the ‘court’ is created to show their power over men. Many marriages are arranged during this time as many people form all walks of life are brought together for an extended period of time. The meaning of the festival is held close, and the celebration is wild and at times filled with debauchery. Jolinar is by far everyone’s favorite festival.