A wintery treasure
A berry that bears fruit twice over winter, once in the middle and then once again at the end. The Moorland Gnomes use it to mark the passing of winter and it is this tradition that gives it its name, though the Gnomes tend to just call them winter berries. The plant is completely in tune with the cycles of nature, and it will not bear its second crop of fruits unless winter is truly on the way out.
It is tradition for small groups of Gnomes to go out berry picking once the winter scouts have reported the bushes to be bearing. The bushes bear their fruit for about four weeks, but the Gnomes only pick for the first three weeks. Not only are these berries sweeter, but the Gnomes know to leave enough berries for the bushes to continue to propagate. They also don't strip the bushes bare, especially in midwinter, as other wildlife on the moors depend on these berries for survival.
The berries from the midwinter harvest are usually turned into pies, baked into sweet breads, dried out to be used in hot berry tea, or used as part of a fruit liquer that the Gnomes drink hot to chase off winter chills. The berries from the second harvest, at winter's end are usually turned into jams and preserves, and also dried out to add flavouring to the heather mead the Gnomes brew in the summer months.
A mark of time
The discovery of the first ripened berries of each harvest is a time of celebration. The next day after the discovery, a group is sent out to gather as many of the berries as they can. That evening a small feast is held: winter berry liquer is drunk, hot berry pies and crumbles are consumed, and music and dancing carries on deep into the night. The first feast celebrates the survival of the first half of winter, and acknowledges the continued efforts needed to survive the second half. The second feast celebrates the survival of the second half of winter, and marks the start of the preparations for spring.