The Lifedancing, an Aligare celebration of new beginningsPosted: December 31, 2013
As we approach New Year’s Eve, how about I tell you about new year festivities in the land of Aligare?
An Aligare year has three seasons: sowing, reaping and waiting. Waiting season is most analogous to our concept of winter. It’s a cool, dry season, a natural low ebb to be endured. Plants still grow, but slowly: cultivating crops takes more work and more plantcasting magic than usual. Folk tend to eat stored grain and preserved foods, since fresh greens and plump food animals trade at a steeper price.
But when waiting season ends and Phoenixmonth arrives, a new year has begun. Not a named or numbered year: there’s no written history. It’s simply another year. In these first days of a new year, korvi folk like throw caution to the wind and celebrate the Lifedancing.
Essentially a New Year’s Eve party of epic proportions, the Lifedancing is a two or three-day festival (depending on the community holding it). It’s a korvi holiday, but anyone can attend and help kick off the new year. Korvi-majority communities each hold a street party featuring all the singers, dancers, bards, musicians, acrobats, casting artists and assorted other performers that can possibly be assembled. Everyone shows off and entertains others to the fullest of their ability, as long as their voices, muscles and spirit hold out.
And it’s a merry event, indeed. Merchants make sure they have jewelry and bright fabrics spread out for trade. Special caches of food are brought out, and street-foods are prepared: honey-glazed nuts and meats; sweet biscuits with fruit chunks in them; popcorn and crisp-fried vegetable cakes. Vendors trade cups of warm mull and herbed cool water to the revelers, and they’ll typically bring free drinks to the hard-working performers.
There’s no shortage of alcohol. Ordinary fruit wine is common and plentiful. Aemets treat wine as a tonic for their nervous dispositions, and a festival full of happy friends is good for them, too. Ferrin will partake in a small, watered-down cup of wine — since their small size and sensitive palates mean they’re not well suited to alcohol. Korvi, on the other hand, typically like their drink and handle it well. They sometimes drink astringent wines made of birdcherries, or spiced brandies they distill from aemet-made wine. Corn whiskey is another korvi-made treat: some refuse to drink it any time of year except the Lifedancing.
It’s said that the fire god Fyrian loves a lively party, so he shows up to Lifedancing parties on a regular basis. Electric goddess Ambri has also been alleged to attend Lifedancings, where she curiously watches from the sidelines. It’s not uncommon for someone to claim they glimpsed a High One in the crowd, or talked to them in a quieter corner of the party. Such accounts tend to be hazy after a few late nights and full cups. A Lifedancing ebbs and flows for its 2-3 days, with the mood of the party changing as people leave, return and nod off to sleep — so a god might well be present for a few moments. Who’s to say for sure?
Despite all the levity and drinking, the Lifedancing has a vital purpose. It’s held at the beginning of Phoenixmonth to mirror the Legend Creature Phoenix’s way of renewing herself. For mortal peoplekind — who can’t just fling themselves into lava to freshen up — the cusp of a new year is a fine time to shed their old grievances and fears. Korvi take the Lifedancing as a time to apologize to someone they’ve slighted, or resolve to achieve a goal, or ask someone to be their mate (monogamous or otherwise). Aligare society may be very kind and fair, but everyone needs a prompt sometimes.
And after all this celebration dwindles, everyone packs up the festival blankets and nurses their hangovers. Korvi and their friends return to ordinary life, at the beginning of sowing season and good weather. Maybe they’re looking forward to a new relationship or life goal. Maybe they’re just talking about the entertainers they saw. Either way, life is renewed and life goes on.
◦ What it means when Aligare folk say “anypace” (heidicvlach.com)
◦ Competitions and wagers: friendly gambling in the Aligare world (heidicvlach.com)
◦ A magic spell by any other name (heidicvlach.com)