Imbolc, the Herald of Spring

Imbolc is the first Tween Day in the calendar year marking the halfway point between the winter and spring seasonal Stellar Days. It occurs on the 16th day of the Month of Horning on the Secular Calendar and the 6th day of the Month of Mera on the Zodiac Calendar.   Like the other Tween Days, every culture and tribe observes this holiday differently but there are commonalities.   Typically winter is well underway but tiny aspects of spring are creeping back in. There is a general attitude of wanting winter to be over, so a large part of Imbolc is praying for an early spring, a pleasant and relatively storm-less planting season and a long growing season in the coming year, though in civilized lands this is often tongue-in-cheek.  
"According to calendars, the first day of spring is the first day of the month of Verdance and the star of spring gains ascendance on this day.   But our Divine Lady Nami does not like to bound by calendars or stars. She will usher in spring when sees fit to do so, be she early, on time, or late by the reckoning of sages.   That is why Imbolc is often unofficially associated with Nami as many pray to our lady for an early and gentle spring."   -Norabruck Grumblespine, dwarven Circuit Priestess of Nami
"With all due respect to Nami, she may be a fine goddess that does many good things but one thing she does NOT do is answer mortal's prayers or supplications for nice weather, but that doesn't mean we cannot have fun trying.   A lot of gnome villages keep a mascot pet, usually a dog or a tame rodent named Little Nami that we spoil the day before Imbolc. The morning of Imbolc our elders will watch the behavior of the village pet and interpret "divine portents" to determine if we are going to have an early or late start to spring.   Of course these divine portents are about as accurate as a goblin solving a math problem but it gives us a good excuse to throw a party. I usually make it a point to go home and visit my family every year around Imbolc for this reason."   -Roodnat, gnome chef
"Most martial tournaments are in the summer, but not all of them. Imbolc is cold in Kantoc, but it is not unbearably cold. Every year our good king holds a royal tournament on Imbolc. The cold weather keeps the crowd of onlookers smaller but in a way Imbolc is the most important tournament of the year.   It's hard to be cold when your blood is hot from battle. On this day we don't fight for the adulation of small folk but to prove mettle to our lords and peers. While the battles are intended to be nonlethal, they are deadly serious.   Supposedly the fire of our courage helps chase away the cold of winter. I doubt we can usher in an early spring, but I never shy of a chance to prove my mettle."   -Sir Derecho, Knight of the Red Lion
  Attitudes are different among nomadic peoples. They take Imbolc and the ceremonies involved with the day much more seriously.
"Imbolc is a scared somber day our actions dictate whether the upcoming year's hunting will be plenty or scarce. Our actions on this day sway the gods themselves.   The humans and other weakling races believe otherwise, so they make a farce of this day, but we know to prove our worth we must bleed for the Nine, as our ancestors have done hundreds of times before us. It is not required that someone die, but blood must flow or we will will appear unworthy before those who look down on us from the stars."   -Dabub, orc hunter
"Imbolc is a time of new beginnings but also of hardship and loss. We respect our elders but we do not coddle them. If one of our people grows so infirm that they grow to be a burden on the tribe, they can and often do volunteer to leave us and join the Nine.   For some, the feast on the eve of Imbolc is their last meal. because on Imbolc, with a heavy heart, we will send away on their final journey.   Our winter stores of food are low on this day, but four our youngest and hardiest. It is possible to begin hunting. The general population will typically say in our winter camp for another five to six weeks but we typically kick out our young adults on Imbolc. They have to go out and feed themselves. Most look forward to this. Many of our young people relish the opportunity to have a few weeks without elders hovering over their shoulders criticizing their every move.   At this time, new couples can also enjoy some...privacy. Among our people privacy is as scarce as easy food and as precious as fire."   -Enapay, Laguza fisherman
  Like the other Tween Days, a lot of Fair Folk enter the mortal plane on this day, but mortals rarely see this. The Fair Folk often have ceremonies and rituals of their own which they prefer to keep private.   While the Fair Folk do not seek out mortals to interfere with, any mortals that stumble on to the Fair Folk on this day are likely never to be seen again.
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Cover image: Symbol of the Nine by Pendrake


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