“You speak the glorious truth as always, your mightiness.”
“Then it should be true also that such peoples may have the strangest reasons for celebration…”
A carnival adds color to a settlement, and for most folk, any excuse will do to brighten up their days. Such festivals also add a little uniqueness to places traveled through, some background and spice to urban settings, and a framework for entire adventures…
1. The Joyful Fest of Many Black Birds: Celebrating the presence in town of its thousand ravens, townsfolk go out wearing black and armed with crossbows, trying to kill as many other birds as possible. Dead birds are hung on poles decorated with colored garlands, which are paraded about town until dawn.
2. Saint Magil’s Month: Local clerics refuse to speak for a month in honor of the martyr Saint Magil who had his tongue removed by heretics.
3. The Wych Chase: Unmarried local women dress as witches and are chased by local young men who hope to steal their familiars—curiously unsettling carved cats and bats—an act that allows them to propose to the women they catch.
4. The Slor Pyre: A pyre as tall and broad as a house has steadily been growing on the green for months. Legend states that if it does not burn for 2 months and a day each year, the dragon of the pyre will come to the world of men. Tonight the pyre is lit!
5. The Breaking of Barrels: Quite why all the barrels of cider in the town made on Ciderapple Day are rolled down nearby Breg Hill and smashed on the rocks at their feet is unknown. Why local men stand in the way of the barrels and attempt to leap over them is a matter of male pride, however.
6. Waiting Ward: Each year, a new wicker man is placed at the entrance to the village and filled with cockerels. Birds that escape are allowed to live another year while those who don’t are killed and roasted at a special feast before the wicker man is burnt.
7. Merrily Merrily: Colorful garlands are hung about the Grieving Stone in the center of the village and Morris Men dance for a day and a night to keep away a devil said to visit the town disguised as a handsome stranger.
8. The Evening of Khallas: The heroic death of a centaur with two heads whose mummified corpse is interred in a local crypt is celebrated when his corpse is paraded around the town at midnight on a bier. Townsfolk don special two-faced masks for the evening in homage to the centaur who slew a giant that once attacked the town.
9. The Thraid of Xis: A weekend of mask wearing, the locals don curiously grotesque masks to represent lepers who visited the village 100 years ago and whose leader married a beautiful princess staying nearby.
10. Lady Green Hair: Local women dye their hair green to celebrate an abundant harvest and to keep themselves from the lustful attentions of the Green Lord, a nature spirit said to sire 1,000 children a year.
11. The Marriage of Mavven: Two pigs are wed each year in the village. The pigs are dressed in finery, have a proper church wedding, and are paraded about the village in a fancy carriage before being slaughtered and roasted at dusk. Some say the tradition began when the village elder was polymorphed into a pig and found that he liked the form so much he remained in it for all his days, even taking a pig wife and siring many piglets.
12. The Twilight Feasting: By day, the streets are deserted—those who are touched by the sun are considered unclean and barred from the night’s festivities. They celebrate the burning of an infamous vampire, a straw manikin of which is paraded through town and burnt on a great pyre at midnight.
13. The March of the Dead Bishops: The bodies of a dozen former bishops are brought up from a local crypt and into the sunlight for a day. They are carried about the town on magnificent golden palanquins before being returned to the crypt after which a night of silent prayer is followed by a week of raucous drinking and festivities.
14. Night of the Pale Children: Children dress as ghosts and run around the streets chased by Father Ill-Fortune: a man dressed as a black clothed wraith carrying a scythe who was said to be responsible for killing 100 local children a score of centuries ago.
15. River’s Blessings: Each villager is blessed in the river that runs through the center of the settlement. However, the blessing has a twist: it only takes place when the river first freezes in winter. Locals have to break holes in the ice for the blessings to take place.
16. Mad Fool’s Morn: Throughout the morning, the locals cannot tell a truth in order to honor a village idiot who saved the place a century ago.
17. The Storm Toad’s Cry: To keep the weather good, the locals sacrifice toads by capturing them and encasing them in clay. Each festival, the old clay prisons from the year before are broken and at least one toad always hops out alive.
18. The Lantern Fest: Locals parade about the town by night, each carrying a paper lantern and throwing them into the river to appease the spirit of the river: a creature said to eat pregnant women. There are 3 days of feasting on fish after.
19. The Carnival of Blood: Locals dress in black hoods and refuse to shed blood for a week. If any blood is spilt, 40 days of rain is sure to follow. The week ends with a huge feast of meat and enormous blood puddings.
20. Moon Dies Day: Locals wander the village in terror from the moon above: convinced that today of all days may be the day it falls upon them. Some wear helms, others carry shields above their heads, some spend all day beneath stairs or tables, convinced that today is going to be the day it happens.