Coming out - the 16th birthday celebration in Akorros Tradition / Ritual in Melestrua's Mystara | World Anvil

Coming out - the 16th birthday celebration in Akorros

The significance of 16

16 is a very significant age in Darokin. It is the age of majority, when the individual moves from being a youth to being considered an adult with all the pleasures, privileges and responsibilities that entails. It is the age at which they can buy alcohol, sign a contact, vote, get married, participate in a duel or join the army. It is the age at which they start to be liable for taxes and have their worth valued in their own right rather than just based on their parents' worth.  

The morning dunking

Such an important birthday deserves a celebration to match. And the people of Akorros don't waste the opportunity.   It starts the night before, as the youth dresses in very old clothing for the night - ideally several sizes too small. Their bedclothes are removed from and they spend the night on the bare bed under just a childish blanket.   In the morning, their family enters and, still dressed in their outgrown clothing, they head down to the lake, where the celebrant strips off and dives in, in winter possibly having to break the ice to do so. The family lights a fire (or takes advantage of a handy brazier) and the clothes and blanket are ritually burned, and when the celebrant comes out of the water they are wrapped in a new, full-size blanket and given a whole new suit of grown-up clothing to put on. Once dressed, they are also handed a leather sword-belt and a rapier to signify that they are now responsible for their own safety and protection.  

During the day

With that part of the ritual done, it is time to return home for a massive brunch of dark rye bread, boiled eggs, sausage and cheese, with a brimming tankard of beer and an empty guindametlla glass sitting at the celebrant's place. Again the tankard and glass are theirs to keep, and the family now give them further gifts to set them up for their adult life - sturdy boots, further suits of clothes, a utility knife, a purse with cash, a writing set, or whatever else the family can afford and think would be useful.   This is also an opportunity for more affluent families to donate assets which will help ensure the new adult starts their life with the greatest personal worth possible.   The afternoon is spent quietly, preparing for the evening celebration; only the youngest family members will eat between the brunch and the evening celebration.   By an hour before sunset, the guests will start arriving - friends and extended family. The party room will already have been decorated with strings of lanterns and candles, flowers and scented pot pourri, and the table (or tables for a large celebration) will be set.  

The celebration

The celebration starts at sunset with the celebrant ritually lighting a candle in an ornate candlestick at the front of the room, and then the rest of the candles, lamps and lanterns are lit from this candle. Loaves of bread are brought, and first the celebrant and then the rest of the gathering break off a piece. The Guindametlla glasses are filled (or guindetella for the children), and once everyone has both bread and drink, the celebrant is encouraged to lead the assembly in dipping their bread in the drink then eating.   That starts the feast. Veal cutlets, roasted aubergine, roasted lake fish, bread, sausage, wheels of cheese, olives, capers, goes on for a long time until everyone is almost too full to move.   Then, while the guindametlla bottles pass again, someone will pick up a guitar and start to play. That is the sign to push back the benches and tables and begin the dancing. A few gentle couple dances to get people warmed up, and then it gets wilder. Everyone clears a space in the centre and the celebrant is pushed into it. The guitars and drums pick out a lively tune and they are encouraged to show their moves, trying to keep up as the melodies become more and more energetic and frenzied, until with a strummed chord the musicians take pity, everyone applauds wildly and joins the new adult on the floor.
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