The Mother's Triumph
Tell us about a tradition surrounding births in one of your worldsl In the Catlands, childbirth is considered a battle where the woman goes to war to fight for the life of her child. Culturally, they are seen as underdogs against the great comic force they must fight, and so there is no shame in defeat- only sorrow. The damages to their bodies inflicted by this war are deemed honorable, and gained through courage and sacrifice. When a Cat woman goes into labor, she secludes herself. First-time mothers may ask their mothers or sisters for help, but multigravidas tend to deliver their babies alone, calling for help only if something goes wrong. Once the child is born, someone in the household places a curtain over the front doorway of their hut. An orange or golden sheet signifies a healthy child; a black sheet signals to the community that the baby was born dead, or else is not expected to live until it's presentation. Successful births are celebrated by the entire community, and once such a signal has been put up entire villages launch preparations for the Mother's Triumph celebration. The new mother herself remains sequestered for two weeks (three in the case of difficult births), seeing no one as she bonds with her baby and recovers in both body and spirit. The other women of the village take turns cooking for their shuttered neighbor, providing food that they (or their mothers) found helped the most in their recovery. On the last day of the new mother's seclusion, she entrusts the baby to their father (or, if he is not present, another trusted adult). They will watch over and care for them while the mother is celebrated. Some women put on their festival paint for the event, but it is far from a requirement. When at last she steps through the golden curtain, she is greeted by the entire village cheering. She is crowned with flowers that have a soothing scent and lifted by the crowd on a wicker chair to the village square. There she is celebrated as a hero and guest of honor at her Triumph feast. A pair of traditional toasts of tzal are drunk: one to the honor of the mother, said by one of the village elders; and one said by the mother herself to her baby's health- this is traditionally how the rest of the community learns the new child's name. While music, food, drinking and dancing are in abundance once the party is begun, the honored mother is not expected or pressured to partake in any of it. She decides herself what she feels up to, and she is welcome to simply rest at her seat of honor if she so chooses. Well wishers are free to come to her, along with any other pregnant women in the village seeking a blessing for good luck in their own deliveries. When at last the party winds down for the night, the crowd once again carries the new mother on her wicker throne, this time back to her home. One last, unified cheer is raised before everyone goes back to their homes to sleep. In the morning, the golden curtain is taken down, laundered, and carefully put away, and life begins again, anew.