The first gift
Some claim that more than a gift "the first tree" of a lienita is a responsibility or a test. They have to learn how to take care of it, keep it alive without any help during their teenage years, and give it back at some point. To the eye of a stranger, it may look like they are only trusted with one of the trees of the family forest. In Lien, there is no doubt about it. The seeds that the parents of a child plant in the Giving ceremony represent the opportunity of belonging to their family. The gift is offered then, and accepted years later in the Returning ceremony.
Giving ceremonyThe community gathers in the local temple a few minutes before sunrise. One or more members of the family set everything in a table—most temples preserve the furniture, so they only need to bring a blanket to protect the table; otherwise they bring it the day before with the decorations. The parents arrive soon after sunrise. If the ceremony takes place after the birth, the tradition is that parents will bring the baby with them and take turns to hold them as each of them plants at least one seed of their own family's tree variety.
Growing upEach family has their own circumstances, but in theory the tradition goes as follows: At first the relatives take care of the sprouts since the parents are busy taking care of the newborn. Once the child is able to follow instruction, one of the little trees is chosen from each side of the family to gradually teach the kid how to take care of them. At the same time, both parents work together to make sure that the child interacts to some extend with all the relatives, and learns about both sides of the family. As they grow up, children start taking more responsibility about both trees and develop their own connections with their relatives.
Returning ceremonyWhen they are old, each lienita decides which family tradition to follow. Then one of the trees will either return to the family forest or take an especial place at home, symbolizing their belonging to that family. The other becomes a regular miniature tree, and more often than not ends up in a random park or garden.
|Yes, sometimes a relative or more feel rejected after the Returning and yes, it can turn into a permanent open wound. For others, it doesn't mean anything at all. More often than not, the relation remains and is clear that only the legacy related responsibilities and perks are rejected.||Rejection of a legacy|
Components and tools
The seedsThe original and more extended practice is to gift the last seeds from their forest, or to pick the best of them. The most common exception to the rule are those who collect only the best seeds over the years, a long process that starts long before the conception of the child, and may get very complex when the family is big. Those who take pride in a long legacy use only seeds from the first tree in their forest, and those that give more relevance to nuclear family prefer seeds from the parents trees instead—some of them may even keep only one tree. Not many people in Lien follow any of those principles. Containers In the old days, containers were nothing bud decoration. Most people would buy a pretty envelope in the last moment, but some enjoyed to make or buy some exquisite boxes or vases to either use for their children or to give to friends or relatives when they started a family. With time, it became a wedding present that would only be accepted from the closest friends of the couple. Families who storage seeds for long periods of time used to have specialized containers to preserve them, but this days it's usual send them to the local seed storage bank, and use a regular container for the ceremony.
The treesThe shape of the tree is always choice and responsibility of the owner. Some families may be quite judgmental about it, but many don't worry much about that factor, as long as the tree lives enough to be part of the ceremony and maybe to produce some seeds for the next generation. Is the health of the tree which represents the owners character, even when some teenagers will obsess about molding it to show certain elements of their own personality. Pots For the Returning ceremony the trees are usually transplanted to a new pot that is supposed to be the last one the plant will ever occupy. In a period of big, long term decisions, this is usually a source of stress for the youngster. Some rather follow a trend or use a copy of the original pot—chosen by their parents or family head—to avoid the struggle; they usually regret it in a year, or a week.
ToolsEven when planting at least the first of the seeds is part of the Giving ceremony, the tools used used for this task are nothing special. The same goes for any other implements required later to take care of the tree. People who do gardening simply use whatever they have in hand. Others will borrow them from friends or relatives. Those who have to buy them, though, will pass them to the next generations but is not considered a family relic and can be share freely. Those few families that include the transplanting of the tree in the Returning ceremony, usually decorate the tools, but those are ordinary items too.
Traditional CostumesMost of the ancient families have these. They usually represent the family legacy in one way or another. Some are made with material discovered by their ancestors or harvested by several generations of them, even the current one. Others show symbolic colors or patterns. For some, the design is different each time but it must be made by a particular member of the family, since the techniques to sew the clothes are a strong element of the tradition. On the other hand, there is a few families who inherit the costume and develop better and better ways too keep it in perfect conditions.
Decoration and PathsUsually the best decorations are saved for the entrance of the temple and the path that leads to the area where the ceremony takes place. This Path can be drawn with different kinds of decorative powder, lamps, garlands or sculptures. Depending on local traditions, they can show a cheerful combination of colors or a single, meaningful one. Sometimes, the area of the ceremony is decorated too, but only with sculptures or lamps in strategic places.
The gardensUsually in the border of the Nature's Altars, these is where each family keep their forest, either by bringing the tree in its pot or planting it on the ground.
Every family at Lien celebrates the Giving before the birth of a child, or very soon after. It also takes place in case of adoption, with the same meaning. Some parents choose to repeat the ceremony once the kid is old enough to learn how to take care of the plant. The Returning takes place when the owner of the plant is old enough to decide for themselves. For many, this is the year they choose a career, but several cultures have other standards (a specific age, first job... etc). There is even a town where each person can perform the ceremony at any time they want before they start a family. Once in a while, a variation of the tradition is celebrated for a family friend or protégé, a partner, or even a new member in certain organizations.
The first gift a person receives varies from culture to culture. In Lien, they get a collection of seeds. But is it really a gift?
Primary Related Location
Participants & Key rolesGiving
- The child is usually present or soon to be born
They lead the ceremony
The family head or the grandparents must be present. Everyone is usually happy to join though.
- Family friends
The friends of the parents and sometimes the friends of other family members are invited.
- Neighbors may or may not be invited
- Strangers aren't welcomed
- Tree's owner leads (and often organizes) the event
They need to be present in the ceremony, but isn't common for them to take part in preparations
The family head or the grandparents must be present. Everyone is usually happy to join.
- Family friends
The friends of the tree's owner and sometimes the friends of other family members are invited.
- Neighbors may or may not be invited by the tree's owner
- Strangers aren't welcomed
Once in a while, a variant of the tradition is celebrated for grown up people as a symbol of a deep bond. It doesn't always have the same meaning that a family bond, but is just as strong.
The most common version is to give a set of seeds or a sprout in private or among other members of the same group, setting the conditions or reasons to establish the relation; by taking the offering, the person agrees with those. Naturally, they can add their own terms or ask for changes before accepting. While this often comes as a surprise, it can be something that both parties arranged and even include other witnesses. A surprise Giving with witnesses is considered rude and pushing.
Regardless of whether the event is formal or not, it's perfectly possible to realize it in a temple, the only reason why many discard the option is to keep the secret until the last minute.
There aren't specific rules to determine when or how to realize this rite, but it's expected in cases like these:
|Once a tree is added to the family garden, it wont ever be removed. At contrary, they are replaced if necessary. Many families keep a special area for the trees of the deceased, or have some way to mark them. In odd cases, the same is done for the trees belonging to those that had broke ties with the family, and even for those who bring them pride somehow. Since those practices are so uncommon, it doesn't usually make sense to have those measures. Most families don't add the trees to the garden immediately. Instead, each person takes their tree to a special spot at home, wherever that may be. In those cases, part of the funerary ritual of the family is to take the tree to the family garden. The same applies for those who take the tree with them despite their family tradition, usually because they live far from their relatives.|
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