Traversing the streets of any major city or village in the Southern Province of the Kingdom of Cardor around the 4th of Gwendyth, anyone would hear a common exchange: “Happy Harvest!” To which, the person greeted replies, “Bountiful Harvest!”
Why? In Weaving and Musings of Essencers, the first novel in the Aelathia series, the week-long Harvest Eve holiday nears. For four days, Southerners take a break from their busy schedules, celebrating in fairs, feasts, parties, balls (well, not everyone gets to go to a ball, after all). The Southern Province is widely considered the “Breadbasket of the World”. Approximately 60% of the world’s crops come from this wide plot of land leading into a peninsula.
Of course, it would be plain foolishness if no one looks after the crops, so not everyone takes time off of work. It’s especially a successful time of year for the major cities of Cissors/Cismore and Gloriweedum. The city of Gloriweedum, all told about eleven thousand ethereals, swells to nearly twice that size as tourists and travelers, merchants and entertainers, even thieves and troublemakers clog the streets. Gloriweedum hosts its annual citywide Leatherball Tournament, the top two teams in the region enter the coliseum dome and battle it out amidst tornado-fierce winds and flying debris to the cheer of the crowds.
All merchants set out the best of their wares, and there are merchants aplenty. The Red Heron Inn sees its busiest time of year, serving up the most delectable honeymead and stuffed pastries and fried meat pies found anywhere, or as the proprietor boasts, the whole province.
Meanwhile, in the twin cities of Cissors and Cismore, Count and Countess O’Crast host lavish and decadent parties, the likes of which you might want to keep the kids from going to, though the Countess often frowns on her husbands’ tastes. This year, it’s even rumored that she’s taking a step back from the festivities, including the annual anointing of the white stag with the first of the coin oil, leaving such cultural duties to her niece, the visiting Princess Amelia de Gerac.
Harvest Eve is a special time of year. Families gather at the night before and the last night of, feasting and celebrating their good fortune of a good year’s harvest. For as soon as the four days end, nearly everyone takes to the field to bring in a prosperous new year. Afterwards, comes one more day of feasting, called Harvest Gathered.
Southern Provincers have been celebrating this for centuries, and with the help of essencers, every year yields an abundant harvest.
But are they really the so-called Breadbasket of the World? Do hungrier nations to the far south truly receive food in the midst of persevering famine and drought? Oh well, it’s not the concern of the Southern Provincers. They have a holiday to celebrate. A holiday that’s about to be interrupted in Weaving and Musings of Essencers and its developing sequel. So happy Harvest! And break out those antique swords. You’re going to need them.