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Coming of Age in the Desert- An Oasis Birthday in the Crossroads

The tragedy of Crossroads isn't just the incredible loss of life in an area that was once a thriving and bustling city-state. It was the loss of stories, culture, food, and traditions of a people who have spent centuries combining the cultures of all 4 Corners together while also creating something entirely different on their own. The traditions and history of the place will likely not be something seen on the continent for quite some time.   A transient, merchant culture at heart- the people of Crossroads were very well versed of the come and go, the ebb and flow of people in and out of the city. This created a strong culture of generosity and hospitality throughout the entire city- for one never knows who is from out of town. And, in a place of such plenty, it was customary to always have an open door to those who were in need or want of it. If you have extra, you were expected to share it- food, clothing, drink, stories, shelter. None of this was more apparent when a child of Crossroads nobility turns 13.    The 13th birthday for a child in Crossroads is considered to be the first step towards adulthood. The ease of childhood is over, and the time to learn and excel in a trade, as well as the ability to hold one's own against the dangers the desert presents, is to come soon after. This does come with a large celebration as well as a coming of age ceremony known as Burning of the Bells.    At 13 a child is no longer considered someone to be coddled and protected. They pass from childhood to adolescence - the term in the Crossroads language is synonymous with "apprentice" - and start to play a more active role in society. The celebration is to be as large and as opulent as a family can afford, and guests are not expected to contribute anything to the party but are gifted beautiful parcels by the celebrant. The giving of presents from host to guest is expected in most parties, but in the case of children's birthdays, the parents are expected to provide the gifts to their guests. At 13, this will be the first time that the celebrant will purchase and give the gifts themselves  as a way of saying "I may be young, but I am now capable of giving to my community"  

Burning of the Bells 

  A long-held tradition of most children under the age of 13 is to wear silver bells. These bells consecrated by the Temple of Lyra and Elios and are tied around their ankles with fine ribbons. The belief is that, since silver is abhorred by demons, the bells are blessed by the Temple, and music is the domain of the Gods, these bells will protect young children from any demons that manage to escape the great mountain ranges beyond the wastes wander the desert near the city. Removing the bells is a symbol of trust, that the child is now old enough to learn to protect themselves and thus don't need the bells. And, at the time of celebrating a child's 13th birthday, the child dances over coals until the ribbons holding the bell on burn away and they are "reborn" as an adolescent.    This tradition is a throwback to a long-aged custom once practiced by Ignea's faithful. However, after Severance and the subsequent fading interest in the old gods, the tradition of dancing on fire simply turned into having the bells simply cut from the child's ankles instead. The "cutting of the ribbon",  typically done by a favorite family member chosen by the child is then followed up by a large bonfire as well as music and dancing well into the night. There were still some older noble families who follow the old gods or who desired to keep those traditions alive until their own tragic demise roughly ten years from the present day.

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