Winter's Light

Winter’s Light is a multi-national holiday celebrated throughout Damocles on Saturday, Telos the 7th. The holiday is known for its focus on family, food, gift exchange, and the enthusiastic decorations that surround it.

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History

Old World legends include winter holidays throughout the various kingdoms, including a Feast Day in honor of Mournten’s God-King Odin and a national Day of Worship in Quel’Malar, thought to be in honor of Alexander. The paper International Holidays by Mysidia professor Yukiko Matsudaira put the first Winter’s Light in the kingdom of Kouhei over 1500 years ago, shortly after the kingdom was founded. A terrible blizzard swept through the valley early, killing hundreds from the cold and putting thousands more in risk of death from starvation due to the damage to the crops. Kouhei sent twelve messengers out in all directions in hope of finding help, but none returned.

One month later, though, an army appeared outside of Kouhei’s walls. The kingdom of Tetsu heard their pleas and sent their army to aid Kouhei, each soldier carrying enough food for a family for a week. The Flame Champion of Tetsu told the queen of Kouhei that they found their way to Kouhei by following the signal towers the messenger lit on his journey.

The messenger died upon arriving in Tetsu, but his valor inspired both Kouhei and Tetsu. His journey became a pilgrimage that Tetsu’s Flame Champion would take every winter, and Kouhei said that he took his place in the stars as the thirteenth constellation, The Messenger.

The Flame Champion’s pilgrimage continued even when Tetsu and Kouhei relations deteriorated, with the last documented pilgrimage taking place somewhere around 895 BE. After that time, the war between the kingdoms destroyed many documents dating back to that era.

Over time, Winter’s Light became a community/family holiday. Winter shortages brought villages closer together to ensure the food lasted through the season, which meant more often than not cooking together in group meals. That in itself necessitated a sort of tradition of airing and forgiving grievances since huddling up for winter with your neighbors wouldn’t be all that enjoyable if you were nursing an old grudge about whose chocobo grazed where. Gifts of food symbolized that old community, a way of saying “this time of year we recognize that we are one people and that we rely on each other” – these days not so much for survival, but as an acknowledgement of history. Material gifts are a way of symbolizing a relationship that is give and take. “I give this to you to show that I forgive any slights against me and hope for the same in return”.

The lights on the signal towers from the legend worked into the celebrations. Villages would light lanterns in the snow for travelers, as a way of saying “We have enough for one more, if you are lost or traveling, you can come in.” Over time, the tradition changed to where lights outside a home or village showed that they were celebrating, while lights inside a home are always lit individually by each member of the family or gathering to show unity.

Traditions

Each city in Damocles has their own traditions tied to Winter’s Light.

Donnerich: Since Donnerich was founded 115 years ago, Winter’s Light has been celebrated by putting up lighted trees throughout the city, including a hundred-foot tree on top of the Spire. All transportation in the city is free for the weekend to ensure families can travel to each other with as few concerns as possible. The Winter’s Light parade, held on the morning of Sunday the 8th, winds through the city and has been a charming, if slightly garish, tradition for over 25 years.

Striestadt: Striestadt citizens have always trended toward restrained displays of celebration. Every house in Striestadt hangs a lantern outside their door on Telos 1, mounted on the left side if possible. The lantern remains lit for the rest of the month, and they are not extinguished until the sun rises on the first day of Noris in the new year.

Ad Astra: Ad Astra tends to have the most creative, if overblown, holiday decorations, as would happen when scientists are turned loose while buoyed by holiday cheer. Ad Astra houses open their doors to their neighbors for the full first week of Telos, encouraging friends and family to come and go freely, and large holiday meals are cooked together by multiple families. Winter’s Light itself is for a focus on family, though, with the doors closed to bring families closer together. Lanterns are important to Ad Astra as well, and on the morning of Telos 8, each family releases a sky lantern inscribed with their wish for the upcoming year.

Luxuocidad: The Winter’s Song concert festival takes place from Telos 6-8 at the Garamonde Stadium and features bands from the world over coming to Luxuocidad for a free concert series that runs from sunup to past sundown every day. While the concerts themselves are free, the food isn’t, and Luxuocidad makes a healthy profit each year from the festival. Luxuocidad’s refusal to drop below sixty degrees makes this a popular vacation destination, especially for the snowier cities.

Murond: Murond is a popular vacation destination all winter long due to the excellent skiing in the mountains, and Winter’s Light is no difference. Murond is a city of tall, thin buildings, stone towers and long, billowing flags. The city ran out of space to build horizontally and so switched to vertical some years ago, and during Telos strings of colored lights connect all of the buildings, covering the city in twinkling streamers.

Night’s Run: Winter’s Eve hosts the only regular concert outside of Luxuocidad, but since it’s Julia Tilmitt performing the Winter’s Light Dream, retelling the story of the holiday’s origins, it’s played to a packed house. In honor of the performer, not a word is spoken within Horizon’s walls for the duration of the night. The concert is entering its seventh year.

Mileen: This charming fishing village decorates with twinkling lights, like the rest of the world, but when the sun sets on Winter’s Light, each resident lets a small wooden ship, hand-carved, sail out to sea, carrying a single candle. Families work together to make the ships, and young children often turn it into a competition, trying to see whose ship goes the furthest.

Korindall: Korindall trends older than the other cities on Damocles, as it’s earned its status as a popular retirement destination. Groups of carolers walk the streets on Winter’s Eve, serenading the happy families and the elderly who aren’t able to travel so easily. For the weekend, age differences and cultural clashes are forgotten.

Madain Sari: The new Madain Sari has only existed for one Winter’s Light so far, with the only tradition being a performance by the Tonberry Marching Brigade. Tonberry King Rockne is eager to establish a new tradition for the tonberries, who adore celebrations and holidays and gifts and excuses to use tubas.

Winter's Light

Final Fantasy Omega MattBowyer MattBowyer