Reading through, those with a keen eye, may notice I have 'stolen' much of the cultural aspects of the Naxmorian People, and the Celebration of the Hearth is very much akin to the early celebrations of Christmas as celebrated during the dark ages. A good location for the history ofChristams and it's myths/legends can be found here:
People & Culture
“On a whole, the people of Naxmor are pleasant, but one must wonder if the bleakness of their land and existence has not driven every last one of them batty.”
Hurn, Merchant of Entiny, Debor
By and large most Naxmorians are of nearly pure Orlien blood, while mixed Orlien/Asterian heritage takes a close second. Naxmorians have mostly brown wavy or curly hair, and eye colour is predominantly blue, grey, or brown (in order of occurrence). Men and women both grow their hair long, and often braid it. Often they will braid strips of coloured cloth into their hair to signify certain information about themselves. One who braids their hair with red ribbons is in mourning for a spouse, while white ribbons signify a child. If the person’s hair is braided with blue, they are seeking a mate, and may be freely courted by others. If their hair is plain or unadorned, it is generally conceded that the person is married, or not seeking a spouse. Those who choose not to grow their hair long (considered an oddity amongst their kinfolk) are not looked down upon, but will often wear a small badge of the same colour on their breast.
The people of Naxmor are often characterised as being amiable and polite, regardless of their isolated and threatened position next to the Brighton Empire. It has often being attributed in tavern talk, that the ever present winds of the Naxmorian plains has blown any trace of common sense from the heads of the populace, and as a result they have been left daft.
This is hardly the case, as Her Noble Grace Odette has proven quite capable of political dealings with not only the courts of both Brighton and Debor, the courts of Torgan and distant Shimark. Naxmorian merchants also use this preconceived notion to enter into a few shrewd business dealings grant more benefits to Naxmor than given to their partners.
Most Naxmorians who live outside of the two major centres (Arely and Abbott) are either herdsmen or farmers, eking a scant living from the unforgiving land. As a result, they tend to lack more of the refinement of their “cultured” peers, and concern themselves little with the rules of etiquette. Most rural dwellers are uncouth, little concerning themselves with such pleasantries as bathing; they eat out of communal plates without utensils, and generally dress with little regard to fashion. This does not mean they are unhygienic. Most Naxmorians will bath at the very least once every week or so.
Naxmorians are very friendly, and have many rituals regarding friendship and hospitality. It is considered rude to turn aside a stranger in need, and every effort will be made to at least offer them a small amount of nourishment. When two strangers meet on the open road, it is considered polite to offer a drink from ones wineskin, and most travellers carry a special wineskin for just this purpose.
Another custom that Naxmorians take to heart, is the sanctity of the land. Structures will only be built on the most useless of land, leaving arable land for crops and grazing. Further every family takes great pains to maintain a small plot of land within which they grow some plant which is considered sacred. Any ill that happens to this plant will be considered an ill omen for the family, while a plant that blooms out of season, or acts in some other beneficial way would signify good fortune. Even the poorest peasant will try to have a plant, though while lacking land, would keep it in a pot. Only the homeless are incapable of owning and maintaining a plant of some sort, and as a result are looked upon with pity by the majority. Sometimes, temples will maintain a small plot with a plant there dedicated to the poor and homeless.
Naxmor does observe some laws of sumptuary. The wearing of fine furs (ermine, marten, and vair, while the petty nobles are limited to otter, fox, and wolf furs, commoners may wear anything not mentioned here), and certain fabrics (most notably silk, and any velvet) are reserved for the nobility, and only the military may wear fabrics dyed with orange. This enables all to quickly recognise a member of the watch, guard, or military when needed.
The life of a peasant in the March is fraught with hardship and peril. Little advantages for children exist, and most can expect to live the same lives as their parents. For those few who show some talent or are offered an apprenticeship, their parents will do what they can to make this opportunity come true, even if it means virtually selling their child into service to the new master. Such instances are quite common, more so in the outlying villages where life is at it’s harshest. These sales often grants the parent a small sum of money sufficient to hire a servant or two to take over the chores the child has vacated, and if the parents are diligent enough, possibly even improve their lot in life.
It is not unheard of (though certainly not common), for a family in low standing, through fate, to acquire enough wealth to buy themselves into the ranks of the middleclass or even more rarely, the lesser nobility. While these families, are often looked down upon by their new equals, there does exist a certain respect for those who are capable of achieving such a feat.
In addition to the regular religious holidays and feasts that are observed by most other countries in Euros, Naxmor has a few additional holidays that are also observed.
Feast of Independence:
The most important of all holidays for Naxmorians, this holiday held on the 18th day of Malstef, celebrates Naxmor’s victory in her war for independence from the Brighton Empire. This is a day of feasting and a gathering of the community. Communal feasts are often held at a local keep, or temple, or communal hall. It also often a day of reaffirmation at the church or to one’s lord, as people prepare for the winter months and year ahead.
Celebration of the Hearth:
This weeklong celebration begins on the first day of Endwinter and concludes at midnight of the 6th. This holiday celebrates both the family and the end of winter. On the 1st, families bring green plants into their house, with holly and ivy the predominant two. If holly is brought into the home first, the man will rule the house, while if ivy is the first, the woman will rule. Careful couples ensure that the two plants are brought into the house together to ensure harmony for the year. While the Feast of Independence is a celebration of the community, the Celebration of the Hearth centres on the family. The week is spent visiting and feasting with others in the community, and is a day when infants receive blessing from the local church, and are announced to the community. The 6th is spent with family, and is a joyous feast shared by the family and extended family if any are present in the community. The greenery that was brought in by the heads of the household is taken down and burned in the hearth after the sun sets, while ghost stories are told, and pastries and sweets are consumed.