Snow Sector Ice Carving Contest (IT ‘19) Tradition / Ritual in Harvenston | World Anvil
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Snow Sector Ice Carving Contest (IT ‘19)

Winters in the mountainous Snow Sector may be cold and harsh, but that’s all the more reason to come have fun! People of all ages and skill levels are invited to attend the annual Snow Sector Ice Carving Contest, held this year in the city of Icepeak.   While ice and tools will be provided, sculptors are not limited to the traditional carving of pre-existing ice, either! Those with cold spells or freezing breath are free to create their own, and who knows what cool patterns acid or lightning may create?   Mulled cider and Vinese tea will be available to all participants, and to spectators as well. At the contests’ conclusion, the winner will have their sculpture preserved and transported to Snow’s capital, where it will be available for the whole sector to see.   So, come to the Snow Sector Ice Carving Contest, where you’ll have a magically frosty time!A collection of still-legible scraps collected from a poster advertising the event, which was dated to be from the previous winter. The fierce winds in the area had shredded away sections of the paper, leaving only the upper-left quadrant and various images mostly intact.

History

While in modern times the contest is held entirely for people’s enjoyment, historically that was not always the case. Prior to the Settlement, ice statues were carved and enchanted to protect camps and buildings during winter, during times when the harsh weather conditions were dangerous, if not lethal, to those of races not accustomed to them. This, unfortunately, left the camps largely undefended, making them easy pickings for any Jotunn or other malevolent spirit, who eventually learned to either summon storms and direct them at their targets at the beginning of an attack or to start the conflict during a pre-existing snowstorm.   The strategy, while dangerous, managed to remain successful for a number of centuries prior to the Settlement, and in fact many modern cities in Snow Sector were built on the foundations of old outposts, which only avoided obliteration thanks to their ice golem defenders.   However, after the Settlement, the contest lost its connotations of being a requirement for the Snowfolk’s continued survival and instead became a time when mortals of all races and their Spirit companions could gather, compete, and assist each other in the creation of beautiful works of art. To this day, it remains a point of cultural pride among the Snowfolk, who, regardless of how far from Snow Sector they may move, always either attend the official contest or set up smaller ones in nearby towns or at larger local farmsteads.   Those who live too far from Snow Sector to visit, and happen to dwell in far warmer sectors or on other continents, will sometimes carve wood, stone, or similar materials, then paint or enchant it to give the final product the appearance of a sculpture made of coloured ice. In many cases, the original texture or patterns of the carving material persists even after the enchantment, resulting in a truly unique work of art.

Execution

Once the majority of event attendees have entered the protective dome erected at the contest site, a speech is given, giving a brief history of the contest, congratulating the past year’s victor, and inviting all competitors to try their best. The rules are then explained, the blocks of ice are brought out, and both tools and refreshments are presented.   The contest then begins, and attendees either watch the event or socialize, if they are not busy with their carvings. Cold-fire torches are brought out once the sun sets, to provide light without melting the ice, and a few bonfires are lit. Once everyone is finished, everyone leaves the shield to either return home or to retire to an inn, and the protective barrier is sealed behind them to prevent any tampering by jealous parties.   In the morning, everyone returns and the judging commences. The winner is selected, a hearty breakfast is provided, and everyone heads their own separate ways while the area is cleaned and the winning ice sculpture, along with its creator, are taken to Snow Sector’s capital. Any others who wish to follow may do so, and mass teleportation circles are created, as are other circles for a return trip later on.

Components and tools

Saws, chisels, picks, and similar implements are provided for the act of carving the ice itself, while several cauldrons’ worth of heated refreshments and stews or other hot food are brought either by the host city or the capital for the spectators’ enjoyment, to keep away the cold. Most food and drink at the event is either cooked directly on site or magically kept warm, and as such a number of chefs and mages must also bring their tools.   To ensure no sudden storms or dangerous drops in temperature disrupt the contest, shielding runestones are brought from the capital, to assist the mages devoted to blocking out the elements for the day. Large blocks of ice are also created on-site or quarried and transported in, for those who do not want to or cannot create their own.

Participants

The majority of Snow Sector citizens strive to attend, if not participate in, the contest every year, although Snow Sector is not particularly populous when compared to other sectors. This is primarily due to its harsher climate, rocky terrain, and sometimes unwelcoming spirit presence. As such, it is primarily inhabited by dragonborn and dwarves, with several other hardy peoples making up a minority.   The contests tend to also largely follow this makeup, although there is often a larger percentage of humans and elves present. One or two Firbolgs or ice elves may also be present, and sightings of Skaði or Ullr, while very uncommon, are always welcome.   Due to the event’s popularity, the mayors and other community leaders of Snow Sector are strongly encouraged to take part in the contest, or be present to observe it if they do not wish to carve themselves.

Observance

In current times, the contest is announced via posters put up near common areas in all major Harvenstonian settlements, where the date and location are announced. As the contest is an annual event, and tends to occur at approximately the same time each year, most interested citizens know to pass through their nearest town or city during the proper timeframe, as to avoid missing the event.   The largest part of the carving contest to differ between years is the location on which it’s held, which tends to rotate between most Snow Sector settlements. Despite being somewhat costly, hosting a carving contest is seen as a great honour, and different settlements will compete to be the ones to host the next contest, sometimes at a prior one. Many towns or cities will engage in trade deals and form alliances to influence which of them becomes the host in any particular year, although by Snow Sector law no one location may host more than once in a fifty-year timespan. This allows for smaller towns and villages to have a turn as well, if they wish, and prevents larger ones from pressuring their smaller counterparts to give up their opportunities.

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