Every culture has a set of traditions surrounding the midwinter season: it’s the darkest time of the year that we humans have been illuminating with light and life throughout history. We come together to enjoy the fruits of the harvest that we had saved for the winter, we celebrate with candles, bonfires, and twinkling lights, we bring evergreen into our homes to remind ourselves of the coming spring…and our friends in Iyastera have their midwinter rituals too! Can you guess which real-life practices inspired each kingdom’s traditions?
People across Moineir will celebrate with music, bonfires, and feasting throughout the dark months. They don’t cut trees to bring into their homes, but will decorate the living groves with brightly colored ribbons, seed clusters for their forest neighbors, and collect the fallen branches for fresh wreathes. The crackling of sap and pinecones are a common sound around the communal fires as villagers bundle up in their colourfully-woven blankes and shawls…a common midwinter gift. A traditional dish is a hearty pie filled with seasoned meat and raisins, cooked over an open fire. For dessert, a rolled cake filled with nuts and chocolate.
The typical Tashkili family will spend most of the winter inside, spending quality time with close friends and relatives and giving thanks for the good fortunes of the previous year. Kitchens will keep the home nice and toasty with slow-roasted meat and drinks made from warm milk and spices. The season is an opportunity to rest and recouperate before the hard work returns with the spring. Windows and doorways will be lit with candles, to bathe the interior in a warm glow and send a message of quiet companionship to any who see the glow through the windows. It is a tradition to keep the candles lit throughout the winter, a task which often falls to the younger relatives.
The islands of Ilha are a spectacle to behold each winter, as families will send their homemade lanterns floating high into the sky from the coastlines. Each family creates their own unique design, and a lantern is made for each member of the family (including those who have passed during the year). Entire towns and cities, too, will be decorated with elaborately illuminated lanterns and sea-glass, and competitions between towns for the most beautiful displays are common. Traditional dishes this time of year include vegetables and eel stewed in a spicy broth (the hotter the better) and zesty fried dough-balls flavoured with orange and honey.