View Full Version : [Festival] - The dance of maidens

2004-12-24, 12:24 AM
The festival of Dolciel.

It had been a long trip for Torgren. The frozen tundra was hard to cross, especially with the snow just starting to melt. His feet were wet, his cloak soaked through and his boots rimmed with frost.

Above him hung the full moon, clearly lighting the landscape, and in the distance he could make out the walls of Gents Dans. He would arrive without anywhere to stay, but that was okay too, he had arrived in time. In his pocket he kept a small bunch of the yellow Dolciel flowers he had seen starting to poke through the snow on his trip. Petra would like those.

The sun crossed the horizon as he approached the town gate, the great wooden frame swinging open to greet him and the sun at the same moment. Him and the other people already lined up to take part in the festivities.

The town was yet quiet and Torgren resolved to take advantage of that. Working his way though town he entered ‘The Elk’, a less than salubrious waterfront ward inn, but one that was likely to still have a room he could rest up in before the festivities started at midday.

He awoke to the sound of horns and drums. Pulling on a good cloak, he fumbled for the yellow shirt he had hidden in his bag, then dashed out to the main road, jostling with the crowd.

Then, streaming down the road he saw them, mostly still dressed in white. The young women of the town were singing and dancing as they swept down towards him. His eyes however searched out only one of them. As Petra danced close he pushed forwards, thrusting the shirt at her. She laughed, blew him a kiss and danced on, slipping his shirt on, and joining the growing pool of yellow amongst the sea of white.

“Yes!!” she thought, this would be the last year she danced in the festival.

A cause for celebration.
The festival of Dolciel is held the day following the first full moon after the spring equinox. As such it moves round slightly from year to year. The festival celebrates the coming of spring to the frozen north, and is named after the Dolciel, the Kari goddess of spring. Coming so soon after her high holy day, her clergy often view the entire time between the equinox and the full moon as a festival of sorts.

As with many spring festivals it celebrates new beginnings, promises and a lessening of cold.

Of course people will be people and during the long winter months many have found other ways to keep themselves warm. A result of this is all often unmarried women being with child. The festivities celebrate the start of new life as well as relationships. Many are married during the festivities and thus their children are brought into the world without shame.
The centre of the Festival of Dolciel is the dance of the maidens. All the unmarried women of Gents Dans gather, wearing as much white as they possibly can. The white clothing representing the winter snows as well as the purity of youth. All unmarried women are entitled to join the dance, even those with children or past the age when children are an issue. Young girls also join in often with small white flowers in their hair.

As the sun reaches its zenith, married women with drums and horns will begin the music and the dancing starts. The dancers, in white, head down through the town along a well-established route. As they dance, onlookers will press garments of yellow onto the dancers. Parents of young girls wait anxiously with yellow scarves or hats. Fiancés often with more elaborate garments.

As the dancers work their way through town the parade starts to take on a more yellow tint, appearing as the yellow Dolciel flowers through the snow in the early spring. By the end of the dancing, the white of snow is all replaced with the yellow sun of summer.

The crowd and dancers then mingle in the cool of the afternoon, if there is a member of the clergy of Dolciel present there will normally be a sermon, but established clergy in the north are rare.

Then as evening presses on, elders will go thought the crowd from couple to couple, marrying them before the sun goes down.

As there are often many out of town folk in to see or partake in the celebration, this is often also a time where young lovers get married without the permission or knowledge of their parents. Thus while a time of joy and spectacle for many, parents can find the festival somewhat stressful.

Modifications during the festival.
Little work gets done that day from midday in Gents Dans. Those who brave the Stakus to fish will try to be back well before midday.

The days leading up to it, and the morning in particular will see a booming business for taverns, inns and textile merchants. If there are clergy in town, they will bestow the blessings of Dolciel without cost, as this is a celebration in her honour.

For the clergy of Dolciel it is a busy time, from the equinox to the festival they will be out and about, passing on blessings, teaching and helping to organise the dance.

2005-01-06, 09:59 AM
Hmm, some of this is actually very similar to what gnomes do on 'The Day of Forgiveness', appologies for being so close.