Holidays, Food and Culture of Nendor
I suppose it is somewhat obvious that when world building, one should give the inhabitants something uniquely their own, but it wasn’t to me. Although I like to cook, I’m hardly a foodie. To me, reading a description of what the characters are eating is boring. Generally I skip over these parts, especially if there isn’t anything unique or important in the description. Example of important food would be Lambas bread in the Lord of the Rings or Aliantha berries in Stephen Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant Chronicles. Thus far, Nendor doesn’t boast any such miracle food.
Like any other author, I bring to the table what interests me most. I really don’t care what people eat. The fact that characters eat is sufficient. That is probably a bad attitude and given the feed back from the editors at Dreamspinner, I suspect future books will need to highlight something unique to Nendor and I’ll need to pay a bit more attention to what the characters are eating.
The only significant food and drink issues are connected to wizardry. Magic is exhausting, much like weapons training, only more so. Because magic draws energy from a person, a wizard rarely gets fat. In fact they tend toward the lean, thin, or as Farrell refers to himself on a few occasions, scrawny. As a grand master wizard, Farrell often handles difficult magic that is extremely draining. Non-wizards who haven’t had contact with a grand master wizard, are amazed at the amount of food they can eat at any one sitting and by the fact they stay so lean.
Wizards also tend to avoid strong drink. Imagine someone able to level small villages having too much to drink and ‘seeing’ enemies all around. A drunk, out of control wizard is a dangerous situation. The stronger the wizard, the greater the danger to everyone else around them. For this reason, most wizards and especially grand master wizards, drink very little.
Given all that, what does the average person on Nendor eat – pretty much what we eat minus the Cheetos, Doritos, Cap’t Crunch, Cheese Whiz and Mountain Dew. Bread, meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, wine, water, ale. Anything we can grow, they can grow.
There are two major holidays, celebrated by everyone on Nendor. Winter Festival and Summer Festival; the solstices. On Nendor, this is the time when nearly everyone gets joined. [If you’ve followed the first few posts you’ll know couples don’t wed on Nendor, they are joined.] The festivals have a ‘chicken or the egg’ like component. Did the festivals exist first and people made use of it to get joined and celebrate or did the festival arise from the fact most people were joined on one or the other and probably knew at least one person being joined every time the festival rolled around. Either way, the festivals were grand events, with nearly everyone in attendance. If couples weren’t being joined, they were celebrating with those who were. Or they were marking an anniversary of their own joining. By performing nearly all union ceremonies on these two days, the temples create a reason for the entire population to put aside their differences and troubles and come together for a big party.
Before Meglar conquered most of the Seven Kingdoms, the celebrations were organized by the temple at the local level. Priests and priestesses would fan out across the kingdoms to ensure each town had at least on cleric on hand to perform union ceremonies for everyone seeking to be joined. At Haven, however, the survivors from each nations would gather in one central location set aside for each kingdom. People were welcome to travel to any festival they chose, but most preferred to stay local, and celebrate with the friends and family.
Gifts, other than to newlyjoineds, are not a part of the festival culture. Everyone brings to the festival according to their means. However, once large numbers of people began to take sanctuary at Haven, the various monarchs in exile or Farrell, as ruler of Haven, would supply the food and drink for the party. The temples suggested this arrangement to prevent the festivals from being stark reminders of the deprivations everyone suffered because of Meglar. By making these two days joyous events with plentiful amounts of food and drink, the clerics hoped to bolster the spirits of festival goers, even if just for a short time.