Birthdays in Stoltzlandt
The Life CrownThe way Stoltzlandters celebrate birthdays tends to be a fairly simple affair. This is a time for the family to get together and celebrate the life of the individual involved. When they reach the age of one year old they are given their Life Crown. This starts with a single strand of vine coated in beeswax to preserve it. This is woven into a circle to be worn on the head, not that it stays on long when they are only a child. They are to make sure they keep this for life, in a person's formative years it is up to the parents to ensure it's kept safe and undamaged. On each subsequent year another strand is added and the whole thing is treated once more to ensure it is preserved.
The FeastThe birthday feast can vary widely, it usually depends on what the family can afford. Those with money will have a large banquet, especially for the special birthdays of 12, 16 and 18 years old. Whereas a family with less means will make the best of what they have. The size of the meal is not what is important, it's more about the company although as with anything there are those that think differently. But, the food is not to be the centrepiece, it is about the one celebrating their birthday.
12th YearWhen they reach twelve years old this marks a special occasion, their first step on the road to adulthood. This is when they are deemed mature and worthy enough to keep their crown for themselves rather than being up to the parents to look after. This is the first big step in a person's coming of age and is a time to be remembered. During the birthday feast in the evening is when the mother will gift this Life Crown to their offspring by placing it on their head in front of all those gathered, take a bow, turn around and walk off. Symbolising that her duty of taking care of the crown is no longer hers and it is up to the recipient to now take up this mantle of responsibility.
16th YearOn their 16th birthday this is a major step towards adulthood and a important coming of age celebration. This is where males start to become a man and learn to take care of the family, in order to prepare them for being the man of the house. The sons are taken out by their fathers on a hunt for four days. Here they learn to kill and prepare an animal and how to survive in the wilderness. This is so they learn to feed the family and to live off the land. The first of the four days is the travelling out to their destination, only the father will know the location, which would have been handed down to him by his father and his father before him. They will then set up camp, eat the provisions they brought with them then go to sleep. The second day will be when the father teaches his son all he needs to know about hunting, how to prepare the animal for cooking and the cooking itself. Then on the third day the son is put to the test, his father will supervise him while the son takes charge and leads the hunt himself. The father is to take a step back and only intervene if absolutely necessary. The fourth day will be spent packing up and travelling home. The girls have a very different experience. They are to spend time with their mother and learn all that is to be known about running a household and all the duties a woman of the house has to perform each day. For both roles are just as important in a happy home. The focus is on the whole family working together as a team. As a happy home means a happy life no matter what your station is in life.
18th YearA person's 18th birthday is a very special occasion indeed. In this society this is the age where a person becomes a true adult. It is at this age that traditionally they are given their own home. As with everything else, this varies greatly depending on what the family can afford. They are often close by to their family if not part of the same grounds or right next door but the focus is on them having their own place and therefore their own life. It is at this age they are also allowed to marry if they so wish. Eighteen years old is also when a person stands on their own two feet and puts in to practice all they have been taught before. But they are never truly alone as Stoltzlandter society is one of camaraderie and working together, if they need help they have but to ask.
The Birthday LoafAfter the evening feast a specially made bread loaf is brought out. This will have traditionally been made by their mother but any member of the family can step up and do this if the mother is unable to for any reason. The ingredients of this loaf can very greatly, some are laced with various herbs, dried fruit and any other kind of ingredient they can get hold of. The base is the normal basic flour mix but it is the design that changes. Many shapes and sizes exist, the skill and imagination of those baking them being the only limit. This is brought out on a platter by the baker of the loaf and broken, giving the first piece to the person who's birthday it is. Then this is shared round the room, each member of the party getting a piece by tearing it off the loaf with their hands, not to be cut with a knife. This is to symbolise the sharing between the whole family and other friends of those involved.
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