Reclaiming pre-consumer folk holiday traditions
More educated upper-middle class people than ever are dropping the annual consumer extravaganza known as “Black Friday” in favor of a simpler and all-but forgotten traditional folk festival, Quatria Day.
The origins of what modern Pantarcticans know today as “Black Friday” can be traced back some quaranty thousand years ago to the Anthuorians, an obscure Old Late Quatrian religious cult evidently centered around an even-toed ungulate, endemic to arboreal forests of that subcontinent, and since extinct.
In surviving records from the time period, solitary cult adherents were described as wandering deep into the forest without any provisions or gear but the shirts on their backs. There they sought visions of and commerce with the spirit of their cult-devotion, Anthuor, who is depicted variously in contemporary Quatrian statuary and pottery as an enormous black, white, brown, or multi-hued stag, elk, blastomeryx, syndyoceras, moose, megaloceros, or roebuck.
Echoes of this ancient tradition survived the destruction of Quatria and the resulting Diaspora, and can be readily seen influencing medieval Pentarch philosophy and religious thought. From the mystical cervid encounters of San Eustacio and Saintus Hubertus, to the Pendragon/Arthurian myth cycle, wherein a white stag appears (on an irregular basis according to the Quatrian calendar) at the court of the Circulon King, ritually signaling the opening of the Hypogeum, and extending to all feast-goers the invitation to venture forth into the liminal parade space usually restricted to upper class minstrels, jongleurs, and their attendant magicians.
In these visions, the adherent might receive either instructions in Anthuorian cuisine, forest gardening, culture, lore and code, including the law of the Keeper of Animals:
“During Hubert’s religious vision, the Hirsch (German: deer) is said to have lectured Hubertus into holding animals in higher regard and having compassion for them as God’s creatures with a value in their own right. For example, the hunter ought to only shoot when a humane, clean and quick kill is assured. He ought shoot only old stags past their prime breeding years and to relinquish a much anticipated shot on a trophy to instead euthanize a sick or injured animal that might appear on the scene. Further, one ought never shoot a female with young in tow to assure the young deer have a mother to guide them to food during the winter.”
Nowadays, Black Friday is conventionally celebrated on the Imperial calendar the day after Conquest, and is in solemn remembrance of the needless and on-going slaughter of the innocents. It is believed that inwardly dwelling on this inherent cruelty underlying modern Pantarctican society helps shoppers “get into the holiday spirit,” and who could argue against the data science supporting that assumption.
Based on the differences in quarantial and imperial counting systems, the dates of Black Friday and traditional Quatria Day celebrations do not exactly line up on a regular basis. In fact, traditionally, the Quatrian songboard casting system requires that on the quaranteenth hour, of the quaranteenth (or quarantieth) day, of the quaranteenth year, the notes must be struck to signal the start of this supra-national holiday which united — and still does — all Quatrians in all times and places.
Though Conquest is celebrated on the Fourth Thursday of November, it’s position on the Imperial calendar floats anywhere between November 22nd and November 28th, as in the table below.
In years such as this one where Conquest falls before November 25, Caterina Name Day (the traditional start of Winter)— and subtracting any so-called “leap years”*, The Hypogeum opens exceptionally between nightfall on Conquest, until the moment the First Wind of Winter blows in, or nightfall on the 25th, whichever falls sooner:
Make a paper fortune teller
On Quatria Day across the globe today, children still fashion the Star of Kremel — actually originally the Star of Quastria — a kind of multi-dimensional hyper-map onto which are mapped the Pantarctican equivalents of the Hypogean and Experienced powers, and which can be used to divine one’s and one’s family’s soul path for the coming cycle.
Though it is erroneously taught today in compulsory education centers that its associations with the holiday are due to the complexity of subjugating the richer Quatrian calendrical system to the Imperial, the more accurate historic reality is that the famous paper fortune tellers so commonly associated with Quatria Day are actually symbolically relevant to the Anthuorian myth cycle as well.
It is said in the extent Anthuorian texts, that at this time of year, Anthuor wandered into the Thankless Wastes to see what was the matter there that nothing was growing anymore. At first as he walked there he thought the plants were maybe just tired, and decided he probably agreed with them that it was okay and that during winter everyone could just “take a break,” and they could come back next year when it was warm again. But when he got there, he found not even any plants left to be tired. He found only a strange creature who, calling himself the Prince of Lies, took the appearance of a crooked old man in an aged and tattered brown robe, with a chain around his waist.
The Prince of Lies hailed Anthuor, asking his name.
“That which withstands,” Anthuor replied.
The Prince of lies, in reply, challenged Anthuor to a game.
“A guessing game,” he announced. “Determine whether or not I’m lying. Best two out of three.”
“If I lose,” the Prince told him, “life will return to these Thankless Wastes. If I win, I will add you to my collection.”
Anthuor breathed a twin jet of steam from each his great nostrils in agreement.
Due, unfortunately, to lacunae in the original source texts, there is no record of the three statements made by the Prince of Lies, nor the assessments proffered in response to the first two by Anthuor. But in the place where the text picks up again, we understand that the score is tied at one to one, and to divine the answer to the final question Anthuor has produced a primitive version of the Quastrian Star out of a folded leaf.
The Prince of Lies takes this paper fortune teller, and Anthuor tells him to count to quaranteen using the device. He does, alternating it back and forth in his fingers, and unfolds the tab to reveal… the sigil of Anthuor himself.
Seeing this, the Prince of Lies bursts into flames, and the Gentle Waters roll softly back in to bathe the Thankless Wastes. The plants who have withdrawn half-way now to the Hypogeum promise Anthuor to grow again next year after they’ve had a good rest. And this is how Winter as we know it today came to be.