The Prosperity Celebration
Avos is a Gnomish celebration where gifts are exchanged between loved ones. This holiday is meant to celebrate the prosperity of the Gnomish people in their harsh environment, though in the time since its creation, it has spread to many other cultures.
Origins of the HolidayThe Gnomes originally lived in Dwarven Territory with the Dwarves. A mountainous, snowy place, it was home to thousands of Gnomes. However, there came to be a Dwarven King who disliked the presence of Gnomes in his land. He wanted only Dwarves. So he forcefully removed the Gnomes from their homes. They tried settling in the Elven Forest, but it was too dangerous with Elves and the natural things in the forest trying to kill them. So they found the Uncharted Desert, East of the Dwarves and Elves. A place only inhabited by scarce tribes of Goliaths who would likely not bother them. They decided this would be the place they settled. So they set up a city named Lebalos in the year -1510.
Prosperity in DespairThey were failing to produce much in the time after the city was founded. The desert was not able to grow many crops, and many of the animals there were very strong. They were living off of baby sandworms and camel remnants. After all, they wouldn't need the camels anymore, since they weren't going to travel very far.
The Prosperous DayHowever, a Kenku named Sainter (check the Sidebar to learn more about Sainter) arrived in the year -1470. He saw how the Gnomes suffered and wanted to bring prosperity to them. First, he helped them make weapons that would help them hunt, and taught them the basics of Magic to help as well. He gave them crops that would grow in the desert: Onions, corn, cabbage, etc. There were two specifically that amazed them. The first was the watermelon, a large fruit that they never would have expected to eat in the desert. Watermelons were about the size of a Gnome, meaning one singular watermelon plant could likely feed a whole family. The second was the apple. The Gnomes had tried growing apples on trees, but it only worked on scarce occassions. However, Sainter showed that crops in the desert were adaptable. An apple could grow on a tree, sure, but it could also be mixed in with another plant. And so, the symbol of the holiday of Avos was made. The apple cactus. He also noticed one of their greatest struggles was the heat. Many Gnomes were not used to the weather and were subject to constant heat stroke and dying of overheating. So with his ability Let it Snow, he made snow that cooled them down. When it snowed over Lebalos, the Gnomes cried. It was not much, especially compared to everything else Sainter had done for them. But it was the sign they needed that prosperity could come to them.
Sainter's CeremonyWith that, Sainter gave them the last of their gifts. After granting them weapons and lessons and crops and snow, he had given so much. But as a final gift of prosperity, he gave the Gnomes three barrels of beer. They asked how they could possibly repay it. They said when they were prosperous like he wanted, they could give back, but Sainter laughed as he sat before them. He said:
"Repay me? No, that's not what you should do. You grow, you prosper. And when you are prosperous enough that you can give back, do not give to me. I will not be here. I will be in the hearts of each of you. So share that prosperity among each other. Give gifts of prosperity to your friends, your family, your neighbors and your strangers. Give gifts on this day of Avos!"They insisted on paying him back somehow, and he agreed on one condition. All the repayment he needed was two tankards of beer. He drank beer with them, feasting with them for the entire night. Yet records say it felt like it was a week of partying, of merry celebration and of snow. Then, he disappeared into the night. Some say he left on a carriage pulled by six camels, while others say he merely flew away on his own. Avos was celebrated ever since.
The HolidayAvos nowadays is a gift-giving holiday where Gnomes listen to Sainter's advice, giving presents to all of their loved ones. They gather together with their own Apple Cacti and give each other presents to celebrate prosperity on the twenty-fifth day of the fifth month of the year, the Month of Gifts. This is also a practice that has spread, thanks to the seventh Dragonborn Grand Wizard, Perzita Theldrar. Perzita found it when she was travelling, loved it, and brought it home. As she travelled further, she brought it to various other cultures as well.
Symbols of the HolidayThere are all sorts of symbols of Avos. They are as follows:
- Baby Sandworm- Some get an actual dead baby sandworm, while others buy fake ones. They are hung above doorways to show that they are not needed for food anymore, but instead are a symbol of the prosperous times, and the love shared by people. Couples are meant to kiss under the sandworm, which will grant them a prosperous future together.
- Apple Cactus- The Apple Cactus is where all prosperity stems from, being the fruit that brought life to Lebalos. To show this, all gifts are placed beneath it. This is also meant to be a test, as those that place it too close may get their gift destroyed by the cactus. It is often even decorated with small things that are hung on the spikes or lights made with Light Magic to light it up, as it lit up the Dark Age of the Gnomes to a prosperous time.
- Watermelon- No Avos feast is complete without its staple food, the Watermelon. It is cut into as many pieces as possible and shared among families, with extra ones being carved and decorated to show that a family is prosperous enough to have two watermelons. It is then eaten for leftovers, as it is not to be wasted.
- Desert Onion- People wear Desert Onions as necklaces, beliveing them to ward off unprosperous spirits that would haunt them until the next Avos.
- Presents- There is a special kind of wrapping used on Avos, which is put around the gifts. This wrapping was meant to preserve things from the desert heat for Avos, but even when celebrated outside of the desert, the wrapping is believed necessary for the spirit.
- Sainter- The gift-giving Kenku himself, there are many traditions of dressing up as Sainter. Either people wear a full Kenku costume as well, or they just wear his traditional outfit. No matter what it is, it comes with some added girth, some presents, and some beer.
- The Six Camels- It is said Sainter rode away on six camels, which were later named in folk tales and songs as Flyer, Prayer, Dancer, Neigher, Gifter, and Thanker. Some say there was a final, seventh as well that went behind the carriage. This was the camel that protected Sainter, named Piper.
- Snow- Snow is not a common sight in the desert, or in many places. Therefore, Gnomes will often go around making it at Avos season, as it signifies the season starting.
SainterThe symbol of the holiday, Sainter, actually was a real historical figure. A Kenku who went around the world giving gifts. Sainter's first claim to fame is the Kenku holiday of Thanksgiving. It is said when Sainter was around, the Kenku were not prospering. They were at war with the Orcs and many Kenku were dying. So with his ability, Let it Snow, Sainter froze the Orcish army in place to allow for a day of rest. A day where all could sit around together and be thankful they were alive. Eventually this grew to be more about being thankful for anything, but it didn't matter to Sainter. He wanted to spread this cheer to the whole world. Many of the civilizations he went to were not fans of him, but the Gnomes were. His name was adapted in the Gnomish Saunta, which was read by the Dragonborn Grand Wizard who discovered Avos as Santa. From there, the symbol has been oft called Santa rather than his traditional name of Sainter.
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