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The Winter Solstice Festival

Every year on the winter solstice Isendreen communities come together to celebrate the end of the dark days of winter and the beginning of the sun's return. This festival is not only a celebration of the end of winter but it is also the Isendreen New Year. This time of the year is always challenging for the Isendreen as much of their food supply will have been eaten and planting season still being several months away. Despite this one of the most important elements of the festival is the exchanging of gifts. They will often trade food items that are essential to their diet that their neighbors may have already run out of or are running very low on, thus helping their community to continue to be healthy and happy.


It is unknown when this tradition first started, although scholars believe it traces its origins back to the reign of King Faolán in 987 AvGa. While many people through the Kingdom of Isendree follow this tradition and its variants, oral histories tell that it was originally celebrated by the Isendreen people, for whom the country is named. It then spread to the other tribes in the region through the government officials dispatched by the Isendreen government. These officials would have been instructed to not only govern but to also spread their culture, which was deemed by the Isendree to be superior to all other cultures. In some places this resulted in laws outlawing all traditions but the Isendreen and in others it came in the form of lavish parties thrown for upper-class people in the regions both Isendreen and not. These people would then spread the tradition to their servants and thus to the rest of the community. The Winter Solstice Festival is one of the Isendreen traditions that caught on among the other peoples the best.


The celebration begins at sunset on the solstice. Where the festival is held is different in each community. For some, it is in the town center or town green, while for others it is in a town hall or the home of an important community member. Families leave their homes bearing candles, gifts, and small amounts of food, and drinks. The food and drinks are placed on long tables and shared by everyone. After the meal, gifts are exchanged to bring good fortune to the new year. Everyone helps to clear away the food and the tables, and once the floor is clear the dancing begins. This is where the tradition has the most variation. In most communities, it is integral that the festivities last until sunrise, with some electing a few people to stay up until then. In others, the whole community, with the exception of small children, stays up the whole night. Some communities bring in religious elements with services or sacrifices taking place after the meal, or even night-long vigils.
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