Carnaval is a two-week long debauched celebration where the Aradians simultaneously thumb their noses at the cold weather while embracing cultural activities surrounding snow and ice. Held in the depths of winter when the nights are long and the days short, Carnaval is a celebration of joie de vivre in the face of winter's grip on the land.
It is customary for the governor general to provide free outdoor public banquets to all the residents of Sherbourg throughout the two weeks, and woe to the Governor General who shirks this social contract. Hot alcoholic drinks are customary to stave off the chill. The most popular is a drink called caribou, which is a potent mixture of red wine fortified with hard liquor. Sometimes it is sweetened with maple syrup.
Events during the festival feature a wide range of outdoor winter sports, such as sledding, hockey, and skating. The largest event is the ice canoe race across the Grande Vire, which combines the joy of canoeing with the harrowing experience of hauling canoes across unstable slabs of ice in the shifting current of a large river. Most canoeists are fortified with caribou when undertaking this endeavor. For those less eager to drown, the parks of Sherbourg are the scene of snow and ice sculpture contests with a purse of silver for the winners. Children add snow forts to the mix and wage epic snowball battles that can last for hours. The festivities come to a grand climax with a night parade through the streets of Sherbourg. The parade features music, effigies, costumes, and off-key singing. After the parade, it is customary to find someone sweet to cuddle with and keep warm.
Nuit Longue (NWEE LONG), or The Longest Night, is a holiday that celebrates the winter solstice. The path of the sun through the heavens above Corthis has shifted to its southernmost point, and the night in the northern hemisphere is the longest it will be all year. From this point forward, the days grow longer until Midsummer's Day. As Nuit Longue falls on the 28th day of Snowfall, it also celebrates the end of the year.
Each of the nations of Japethe have their own take on the Longest Night. In Albyn it's a time of whimsy and turning society topsy-turvy. Meanwhile, in Saronne (and therefore Aradie), it is a holy time because of Giavere's connection with the moon and celebrated with artistic performances and a vigil service at her temples. The highpoint of the celebration occurs at the midnight vigil, where the seers of Giavere reintroduce light into the darkened temple by means of a candle whose light is passed to candles held by all the worshippers.
The Rendez-vous is the great spring celebration in Sherbourg and is famous throughout Everique. This two-week-long party in the month of Blossom kicks off when the trappers come down from the mountains and up the river from the Lakelands when the trapping season draws to a close. They bring thousands of furs that they sell to the trading companies in town and buy new supplies for the coming year.
The trappers, flush with silver and grizzled from a winter in the wilds, are eager to spend their bounty of coin on wine, women, and song. For the next two weeks, the saloons, gambling hells, and the bordels swell with patrons. Liquor flows, cards fly, and the dancing girls kick their heels high. In the early years of the Rendez-vous the Governor General of the colony commented that there were more dens of iniquity than houses in the city. This observation is most likely an exaggeration, but not by much. The name stuck, causing River Road to become known as Iniquity Row.
During the Rendez-vous, saloons in Sherbourg book eye-catching performances to draw in the trappers and separate them from their hard-earned coin. The trappers are famous for showering their favorite performers with expensive gifts, causing many noteworthy acts to make the voyage across the Levian Ocean to perform in the frontier. The merchants in town have gotten in on the act and sell pricey trinkets suitable for the gifts.
In the early years of the Rendez-vous, the bordels in town hired carriages to parade their doxies through the streets to entice customers. This custom later solidified into a parade called the Promenade that winds through the Riverside. Each of the bordels sponsors a horse-drawn cart that they decorate with their best doxies. Thick crowds of trappers line the route, cheering their favorites as they pass. “Show us the goods!” is a common cry to which the doxies display a bit of petticoat or bodice. In return, the trappers toss necklaces of quartz, pyrite, and sometimes wampum onto the carts.
In recent years, the fur trade has moved further west and many of the trappers sell their furs at the various trading posts built along the Grande Vire and the lakes. However, the spectacle that is the Rendez-vous still draws many of the trappers back to town to experience the delights of civilization.« Return to the Almanac Index