Lore-Win: Holidays of the Realms
For many, the holidays are a brief reprieve in even the darkest of years. A time to come together with friends or family, ignore the fact that the days are getting both shorter and colder, and eat, drink, and be merry. Or, at the very least, a time where you can finally get a day off work to rest and relax.
Perhaps you’re familiar with some fantasy examples. Like the Starlight Celebration, or Wintersday, or Life Day even. Though, I promise you none of this article will be written in vague roars without translation.
The Forgotten Realms are no exception to this. There are as many holidays in Faerun alone as there are gods in the Realms.
And there are a lot of gods in the Realms.
And most of them have their own holidays. Like Gond's Day of Wonders.
Source: Waterdeep: Dragon Heist
Welcome to Lore-Win, the Dungeons and Dragons lore series. I, as always, am your humble Loremaster, Sokar. Today we’ll be delving into but a few of the many holidays celebrated across the Realms. From inventor fairs to feasts in the streets, Faerun can be quite the festive place.
The Open Feast
For our first celebration, we shall be traveling away from the Sword Coast, inland to the prosperous nation of Cormyr.
Not familiar with Cormyr? I’m not surprised.
While Cormyr is one of the wealthiest nations in Faerun, it is also a lesser seen nation for most adventurers. As such, a brief introduction may be in order.
Cormyr, also known as the Forest Country or Land of the Purple Dragon, was a monarchy founded in the year 26 DR. Unlike the more free city states of the Sword Coast, society in Cormyr is much more structured. Where adventurers may operate at will within the confines of the Coast, so long as they don’t go about breaking the law, in Cormyr that is not the case.
Cormyr is also the home of the Purple Dragon Knights.
Source: Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting (3e)
Not only are adventurers expected to have a license to go about their business, but adventuring companies must have a charter. Want to adventure as a party? Better have a charter.
So in such a structured society, there’s no doubt that talking poorly of the royal family would be…
This is where The Open Feast comes in. Every year of the 26th day of Mirtul, the 5th month of the year, Cormyr held a great festival with a feast attended by many of the nobles. The notable exception of these nobles, however, are the royal family.
What makes the Open Feast “open” is the traditional ban on attendance by the royal family. This leaves the rest of the attendees able to speak their minds freely without fear of repercussions. Not that you’d be able to tell who’s saying what anyways. With so many nobles speaking, the conversation grows loud to the point of shouting, just to be heard above the roar of the crowd.
And that’s without adding in all of the songs, jokes, and rude noises thrown into the mix.
But if it’s only open to nobles, will your adventuring party ever have a chance to partake? Well, you might. See, the rulers of Cormyr are known to pay adventurers who take jobs in the name of the realm in land. So, a seat in the Open Feast isn’t off the table for you.
From a holiday that you might not participate in to one where you’ll be the target, we move along to Trolltide.
In the City of Splendours, on the first day of Kython, the sixth month of the year, a celebration erupts in Waterdeep. The city holds a feast to commemorate the end of the Second Trollwar, and the children take to the streets.
Wearing costumes in the form of trolls, the children run amuck from noon to dusk. They accost citizens and merchants, and demand bribes lest they incur the wrath of the trolls.
The adults hand out treats to sate the beasts, likely laughing all the while. These treats may include candy, fruit, sweet rolls, salted meat, and other small treats to keep the “trolls” at bay. Or, at least, they do if they’re smart.
If the children are deprived of treats by anyone, their dwelling is considered fair game for pranks at sundown. These pranks can range in severity from the troll-masked children scratching at doors, to the classic of egging homes, signs, windows, and people, to cat-like screeching made that keeps one awake after dark.
Though, sometimes, the monsters are real.
Source: Waterdeep: Dragon Heist
But of course, a band of adventurers following in the footsteps of children may not be looked upon too fondly by the residents of Waterdeep. Though, perhaps if they’re smart, anyone asked for treats by a band of adventurers dressing up as trolls would oblige.
Or call the guards.
Where Trolltide and The Open Feast are both holidays that start and end on a single day, the Waterdavian holiday of Waukeentide lasts from the first of the fourth month of Tarsakh until the tenth.
In this tenday period are a number of holidays, not unlike the Japanese Golden Week.
As might be expected from the holiday containing the name of the goddess of trade, Waukeen, the holidays are largely business-oriented. In fact, not only are they business-oriented, they contain business practices. During Waukeentide, guild memberships are renewed. A review of the policies of the Guilds of Waterdeep is also carried out.
And in this time, many businesses both stay open late, and provide discounts to customers.
On the first of the month is Caravance, a festival to commemorate the first trade caravans to arrive in Waterdeep. As part of the celebration, parents hide presents for their children to find. These are claimed to be from “Old Caravans”.
On the fifth is Goldenight, a night festival celebrating money and gold. It is custom for those celebrating to coat themselves in gold dust and wear jewelry in the shape of coins. This includes nobles, though how many non-nobles can afford to be so extravagant I cannot say. What I can say is that the holiday sounds like a wonderful time for rogues and thieves. But for more law-abiding citizens, Goldenight is when many businesses hold sales and stay open late.
The seventh brings Guildsmeet, a festival that sees the meeting of the Guilds of Waterdeep. On this day, the guilds announce new policies and commemorate their business over the last year. They also host a celebration that lasts from dawn until dusk. This celebration is so grand that it takes over many of the city streets completely.
Tarsakth tenth brings with it Leiruin, a celebration of Waukeen. Namely, of when Waukeen discovered that the goddess of deception, Leira, tried to cheat her in an honest deal. In response, Waukeen buried Leira beneath a mountain of molten gold.
Leiruin is also a celebration of honest merchants, and is when the Guilds of Waterdeep renew memberships, and when members pay their dues. It is also the day when the guild masters meet with the Masked Lords. During this meeting, the riveting discussion of the guilds’ charters for the upcoming year is covered.
During the 14th century DR, Leiruin also saw those charged with fraud and theft pelted with copper pieces by the populace. The coppers were then collected and donated to the city itself.
At first, Waukeentide was but a single holiday on a single day. But as time passed, surrounding holidays were brought into it, until it became a tenday-long celebration full of festivals and sales.
The perfect time for the coin-conscious adventuring party to go shopping for supplies!
Deadwinter Day, or Midwinter if you’d rather be a bit more cheerful, is a celebration that many faiths of Faerun celebrate at the midpoint of winter. It occurs on a special day between the 30th of Hammer, the first month, and the first of Alturiak, the second month. Yet, many of these celebrations take on different forms.
For the nobility, Midwinter has traditionally been a time to renew alliances or create new ones. Presumably with grand feasts in warm halls. Among the common folk, it is Deadwinter Day, as the winter is cold and treacherous, with the spring crops a long way off.
And for some, winter is a time to make your own fun.
Source: Waterdeep: Dragon Heist
However, these are but two celebrations that take place at this time. Every religion in Faerun seems to have their own celebration for Midwinter.
For example, the followers of the Red Knight, god of strategy and battle, observe the Retreat. This is a ceremony in which the Red Knight’s clergy discuss their battles of the past year, analyze battles and strategies, and then update their teachings.
Followers of the dwarvish god of wanderers, Marthammor Duin, meanwhile observe the Rooting. Marthammer Duin’s faithful tend to live far away from the ancestral mountain home of the dwarves. As such, the Rooting sees his followers celebrating the reforging of their ties to their homelands.
The church of the deep gnome god, Callarduran Smoothhands, observes Midwinter as the Festival of the Star. On this night, the deep gnomes gather to celebrate the protection their god grants them. As part of their festivities, they gather on the shores of underground lakes and pools. There, they watch as phosphorescent fungi illuminate on the cave ceiling. This creates the illusion of a starry night sky, reminding them of their history on the surface.
And in contrast to what one might expect, worshippers of the evil goddess Auril held a festival on Midwinter night. For the faithful of Auril the Frostmaiden, .it was the holiest time of year. Though, perhaps that should be expected of the Goddess of Winter. Her druids pay respect to her on this night. What's unexpected is the greatest festival held by her followers: ice dancing. Night-long ice dancing.
If you’d like to add a little flavour to your campaign, any of these holidays can be added to liven things up a little. The Open Feast could be used to add drama or political intrigue, while hunting monsters hidden amongst children on Trolltide could be a gripping adventure.
But whether you use any of these holidays or not, I’d like to wish all my readers a happy holiday season! Whatever you celebrate, I hope you have a wonderful time, and a Happy New Year!
And if you’re looking for something to do over the holiday season… maybe consider picking up a new campaign? If you need some inspiration, be sure to check out the available adventures at the Tower!
And until next time, may all your rolls be crits.