Ńidunkę Szkiep (ɲiduŋkɛ̃ ʂkiɛp)
The Ńidunkę Szkiep (which literally means "sun in the cat festival") is a common tradition for many villages in the Rojgrasz. It takes places simultaneously in every Dark Lands community (cities excluded) when the constellation of the cat rises above the horizon in the same spot the sun does. It happens in mid september. It's main purpose is to thank the cats for being awesome creatures helping people to survive in the Dark Lands. In some villages, the meaning of the festival shifted slightly and now includes thankings for all the working animals, not just the cats.
People don't like us alńe. We know this and made peace with it. Even though it hurts when the people you help survive and fight demons avoid you, we accept that. We are scary, mysterious and powerful. But when cats hiss at you and flee from you... that is sad.
Whilst usually present in any Rojgraszian ritual or festivity, alńe are not welcomed in this one. Not only they are not invited or sought after to organize the ceremonies, but if there is an alńy in the village, they are expected to be as far as possible on the festivity day. There are two main reasons for this exclusion. The first one is that Rojgraszian cats do not like alńe. They hiss at them and refuse to participate if one of them is present. The second one is that people do not like alńe either. Everyone is happy to send them away for some time and enjoy the relief of not having them around. The mages usually accept the decision without resisting or resenting people. They live to make people's lives better and know people are better of far from them, especially on this special day.
As it often happens, the village chief organizes everything. They decide how much food is reasonably safe to cook for the day and who has to do it to have a remarkable feast without risking starving in the following months. Before the festival, a key part of their role is to collect gifts for the cats. They usually consist of a particular food they like, pieces of fabric or others handworks. In some of the largest villages, they make sure to gather or import expensive berries from afar to show the animals how much they need them. The most popular gift are the spirit berries. During the day, since no alńy is present, they do the talking and lead the various thanking rituals, consisting of presenting offerings to the cats. Children are involved in the celebration and usually tasked with bringing gifts for the cats.
Even though no one ever explained to the cats the festival is intended to be for them, they seem to know everything. They gather in the village centre in the morning and let people shower them with attention, even the usually more reserved adults cats. They know what to do and where to be during the whole day. Many people consider this behaviour another evidence cats are more intelligent beings than other animals. It does not seem enough to conclude their true nature is spiritual, though.