Festival of Samhain
The Festival of Samhain is the celebration of the fall harvest. What started as a commoner's last great feast before the harshness of winter has become the largest celebration in the kingdom. From the smallest settlement to The Royal Palace of Éirigh itself, the halls are decked with the colors of fall, the bonfires are lit, and the warmth of fellowship with friends and family abounds.
Everywhere I look, my eyes are assaulted by colorful masks and jewelry sparkling in the firelight. The walls are draped as lavishly as the guests with banners of orange, red, and gold, and the candles, tables, and other alcoves of the place are filled with bouquets of roses or wreaths of fiery fall leaves. The great hall seems almost to breathe itself, as shadows of candlelight dance over the walls and guests, bringing life to every corner they touch.
The earliest form of the Festival of Samhain was simple family gatherings. After the back breaking work of bringing in the final harvest of the year, they would come together around the campfire and enjoy a small feast to celebrate the prosperity of their crop. If a neighbor had a poor year, they could reach out at Samhain for help to survive the winter, promising to pay back the family's hospitality when they got their feet under them again. It was common for these neighbors to act as family from that point on, protecting and prospering one another.
This practice eventually became the first iteration of The Feudal Alliance System. The most prosperous family in a region would care for those around them, and receive payment back the following year. As the cycle continued, that family grew still more prosperous, and the term Laird came into common use. A few generations later, as the Lairds grew richer on the returns, the family ties became weaker. It wasn't long before those in the community that were once called family became Tenants.
With these changes, the Festival of Samhain became a time of pledging as well as celebration, in which new tenants would pledge their lands and loyalty to the Laird in exchange for lifesaving support through the winter. The Lairds celebrated this time with lavish feasts, masquerade balls, and entertainment, where only the most valued tenants were allowed to partake. The lesser tenants, on the other hand, continued the tradition of a small feast amongst family and friends around a blazing bonfire.
After The Great Alliance was forged and the Kingdom of Éirigh was born, the new King made the Festival of Samhain a national event. By the end of King Teilgeoir Slánaitheoir I's reign, there would be a week long celebration in The Royal City, featuring the finest cuisine, the most beautiful balls, and the most carefree nobility you've ever seen.
This tradition continued until The First Great Dynastic Shift. Without explanation, King Máirtín I put an end to all gatherings in the Royal Palace. While the Royal City still decks the halls for the Festival every year, it isn't the same without the crown jewel of the glistening palace at its core. Laird Breith Sadach took up the mantel of this lost treasure, creating the Harvest Ball the following year. While it is no Festival of Samhain like the kingdom once knew, the Lairds and Nobles of the kingdom still gather together every year in Laird Sadach's magnificent castle.
“May I have this dance?” My voice is timid, hands unsteady. The Samhain bonfire burns bright, castling flickering shadows across Ilow’s face. She wears a simple dress, and her eyes light up at the question, making her face even more beautiful than I thought possible. She nods, and I bow deeply, just like Pa taught me, extending my hand to her and escorting her to the dance floor.
The music is sweet, and my father’s violin sings with a voice of its own, leading the band into a new song. We curtsey to one another, and as the sound swells around us, I take her in my arms, swooping her gracefully around the fire.
While much of the kingdom has forgotten about the family-like bonds that pledges during the Festival of Samhain once created, there are a few old souls that have held on to this value. The most notable of these was The Slánaitheoir Royal Family. Laird Aleck Beygar is another excellent example, having nearly driven his noble family to poverty in ensuring his tenants are well cared for.
The Royal Palace of Éirigh
The Royal Castle of Éirigh is more than just the home of the Royal Family -- it is intended the center of politics and culture for the Kingdom.
The First Great Dynastic Shift
The First Great Dynastic Shift of Éirigh occurred in the year 1475, putting a brutal end to The Slánaitheoir Royal Family and ending with the Traitor King Máirtín I on the throne.
Laird Breith Sadach's annual Harvest Ball became the place for Éirigh's nobility to be during the Festival of Samhain when King Máirtín I put an end to the beloved palace festivities.