Something to keep you here.
Halfling culture is a culture of assimilation, adaptation, and living in the here-and-now. Much of their ancient history and original practices have vanished over the ages or been discarded for the sake of fitting in with the civilizations they merged with. The holiday of Gailthithe Fui, Stardust Day in The Common Tongue, is one of many such tidbits that is lost to time now.
Historians rarely specialize in the documentation of Halfling culture but the few tomes that do exist speak of a culture that cherished feasting, family, and the celebration of life. One of the halflings most cherished holidays during those distant times was that of Stardust Day. It commemorates a legendary event that is said to have occurred early in the Halflings' tribal history. Their people often fell prey to the predations of other races but one story speaks of a threat like no other. An empire of magicians and decadent lords who traded their freedom for power in making a pact with a cruel god. The Halflings called this god the Harvester of Ash because he treated the land like his own private garden, plucking what he pleased and burning the plots left bare in his wake.
These early Halflings were said to be on the precipice of extinction like so many others when a star appeared in the heavens above and began streaking across the sky, leaving a trail of glimmer in its wake. The Halfling elders believed it was beacon sent by some unknown saviors to lead them to safety. They followed it for a full five nights, where each sunset would bring the shooting star back to guide them. Supposedly, the direction would change each night to help the tribes avoid the encroaching zealots of the Harvester. If the stories are to be believed the star dropped from the sky at the banks of Lake Aster. Here, the the celestial anomaly created a bridge of star dust that lead to an island within the middle of the waters before climbing back into the night above. Most Halflings are said to have crossed the stardust bridge to safety but some were so entranced by the beauty of their savior that they climbed the trail of stardust it left behind and vanished into the heavens above.
Stardust Day was said to honor this legend. Most scholars who are aware of the tale believe it to be just that, a story told by primitive people to explain something they didn't understand. There are many celestial phenomenon that even the ancient cave paintings of tribal elves and dwarves agree upon and no such record of dancing star has ever been recorded elsewhere. Even the few fragments of Halfling tribal history that do exist only mention the holiday and not the event that gave rise to it. The most damning argument against the event having happened is the fact that Lake Aster is well charted and no such block of land exists on or near its surface, and even if it did these same scholars say its unlikely such a small island could support the dietary needs of the voracious Halflings.
The holiday was celebrated starting at sundown with prayers to the land, the totems, and the ancestors that came before. This is then followed by feasting all through the night. An hour or so before the expected sunrise, after all the feasting is done, communities of Halflings would gather near the largest body of water to them and light beautifully decorated sky lanterns. These lanterns were in honor of their ancestors who had come before and especially for any who passed in the last year. It was their way of reaching up to touch those that they miss so dearly. The decoration on the lanterns themselves was always of earthly beautify and Halfling culture. This was done as a means of thanking the Shooting Star and showing it that its efforts were not wasted on them.
Gift giving during this time was meant to reflect the night the star made the bridge and so many chose to follow it into the heavens. Gifts are symbolically meant as a means of keeping mortals in the here-and-now rather than then letting them follow the star into the night sky. A bribe of sorts but the gifts are always meant to be deeply personal rather than lavish or commercial. This gesture was to prove that to someone you care about deeply that while the beauties above are temping, only we here truly know your heart. Gifts given by parents to children were usually just simply toys or treats, the same with acquaintances, but those between family, loved ones, and best friends were meant to be of a more sentimental nature.
Components and tools
Food, sky lanterns, art supplies, alcohol.
The entire community is allowed to participate, even those who may have become pariahs or outcasts. Even those who may have become prisoners were allowed to join in. It's said that Halflings were keen on inviting neighboring communities of non-halflings to join in as well. The community leader or highest ranking druid was often the director of the event but their only key role was organizing the lighting of the lanterns and any musical accompaniment for the release (it seems silence or a solemn song were equally popular depending on the community. If music was chosen it would only be a single performer, either a singer or purely instrumental.)
The events seemed to take place during the darkest days of Winter