Childhood funeral Tradition / Ritual in 13 | World Anvil

Childhood funeral

Warning: This article contains numerous references to pets' deaths
Nothing I say can prepare you for it, honey. Because nothing compares to the bittersweet joy of having your first pet die. Trix is ready to join the spirits, so just focus on taking good care of her before that happens. You can worry about what happens afterwards once she has left us.
— A Davsolu mother comforting her soon-adult daughter
  Life in the inhospitable Davsolu islands is harsh. In order to be considered an adult, one must have raised the pet animal selected by their clan all the way until their natural death. The pet's funeral also marks their entry into adulthood.    
Pet selection
A clan will select a child's pet usually once they enter their teenage years.   The selection is very important, as the animal they care for during their transition to adulthood will determine how long this transition takes and what their totemic animal spirit is.   It is common to give careless and childish kids an animal that is easy to take care of (relatively) but with a long lifespan.   It is common for ambitious children to be given a challenge, usually by selecting delicate or dangerous animals as pets.  
Obtaining a pet
While the clan selects the species, it is the young person's responsibility to acquire said pet. That may involve stealing an egg, isolating a fawn from its herd, or even killing the parents.   The young person can do this at any time after their family have told them what animal the clan has selected for them. Most do not rush to get the animal, because the consequences of failure are dire.
Chubby Snow Fox
by dclobes
Snow foxes are a common pet selected for intelligent and active children.
  The young person is expected to procure whatever the animal may need. From food all the way to medicine or a person with healing magic. They are also to teach them to behave around other people (although this often takes the form of finding a druid to speak with the animal). All of this requires time and money. That is why most young people take some time and preparations before they go hunting for their first pet. This way, they can make sure that they are ready to properly take care of it.  
Comfy Ptarmigan
by þorsteinn
Delicate birds and with short lifespans, they are reserved for people fortold to have a bright future.
The dangers of failing
Having one's first pet die prematurely is one of the worst things that can happen to a young person in Davsolu's society. This failure will follow them for the rest of their lives.   A person who has failed at keeping their pet alive is not able to serve in the government or in a religious organization. They are also banned from partaking in sacred hunts, such as polar bear hunts.   During their pet's funerals, the young person will have to explain what led to their pet's premature death, what did they do to prevent it, and what have they learnt from it. Based on their answers, the clan may give them the opportunity to care for a new pet. In some instances, the clan may change the person's allotted pet species, if the experience has shifted their personality significantly.   Even someone who is given a second chance is still subject to the same restrictions. However, they will be looked upon considerably better in society and not treated with contempt (as long as they managed to keep their second pet alive).

A funeral marks the beginning

Organizing and hosting a pet's funeral is the last thing young people do as teenagers and the first they do as adults. This transition culminates with the funeral's meal, where they are allowed to sit at the adult's table.   During the funeral, the clan asks the young person to recount their life with their pet. They expect to learn what they have learnt from their pet and from caring for them. The answers are expected to be personal, and there are very few things they can say that are considered "wrong". Even someone saying that they disliked their animal or that they have learnt they do not wish to have that sort of responsibility in the future and thus will not have kids (or pets) is a welcomed reflection.   Prior to the cremation of the pet, the young person's hair is shaven and given to their dead pet. During this time, most young people give their pet a message to take to the spirit world.  
Look, look! Nibá is finally bold! Let's go talk with him, he's now officially in the market!
— An excited Janíka to her friend

Cover image: by Mark Frost


Author's Notes

The original version of this article was created as an entry for World Anvil's flagship Summer Camp 2021 event, specifically for prompt #18:
"Somewhere in your setting,
describe a coming of age ceremony
      You can view my other entries from the competition here.   All images are sourced from pixabay, pexels, or unsplash unless credited otherwise.

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18 Jul, 2021 12:09

This is lovely and thoughtful. I love the lifelong repercussions that pet ownership has in the society you're describing. Part of me wishes that this was a thing in my own culture!

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30 Jul, 2021 07:32

Thanks, Chris! And whilst maybe not as a tenant of a rite of passage, I wouldn't mind more people giving higher importance to their pet's wellbeing.

18 Jul, 2021 23:10

Bravo. This is one of the finest pieces I've read during Summer Camp. Thank you for creating it.

Cheers, all!
30 Jul, 2021 07:33

Oh, thanks so much! I'm so glad you've enjoyed it that much :D

19 Jul, 2021 03:37

This is a sad tradition but interesting to read

Want to check out more read my bard article
30 Jul, 2021 07:33

Thanks. It is sad, in the end. But hopefully there are many joyous moments before that :)

19 Jul, 2021 15:38

This is so beautiful yet so sad too. The responsibility falls on the child, I like that concept, and that they must admit their mistakes before getting another. great job :)

You should check out the The 5 Shudake, if you want of course.
30 Jul, 2021 07:34

Hehe, thanks, Avalon.

23 Jul, 2021 13:52

What an creative coming of age story! I love that how they take care of the pet will determine future responsibilities and I think potential is determined by the pet given to them.

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30 Jul, 2021 07:35

Hi Cassandra!   Thanks, I'm so glad you enjoyed the little details in the story :D