When the first of the giants of Mechar taught his people of the cosmology of our known universe, he referred to it as “The Cowls and Arcs”, in reference to the layers of the planes and the orbital movement of the celestial bodies. This term, in regards to the visual description of time as defined by the motion of the planets and stars has been shortened over the centuries to “calendar”. The suns-dial calendar allows one to track time based on the movement of the suns through a day, the moons-dial calendar similarly tracks time through the night a month, and the angles-calendar tracks time through a year or even greater time periods. Written calendars are also used, such as those displayed in the Appendix of Images.
Second, Round, Minute, Hour, Day, Week, Month, Year
According to the largest of suns-dials, the smallest recognizable span of time is that between the first and second beats of a giant at rest, known as a second. Six of these make up a round of seconds, there being ten of these rounds in a minute. There are fifteen minutes in a quarter of an hour, sixty in all in an hour. On Arat’, there are 5 periods of the day, each lasting 5 hours. The first is suns-rise, which begins at the time the crest of the sun becomes visible at the beginning of a summer day in the middle country. The second period of the day is called suns-tide, when the sun is at its highest point in the sky. The third period of the day is called suns-down, as the suns fall from their pinnacle to set in the west. After the sun has set on a summer-tide day, the last two periods of the day occur and are both night times. The first of these is called nightfall and the second is called dawning. There are seven days in each week. The first day is usually a market-day referred to as Daquzis (for the mother sun) and is followed by Nunazis (for the father-sun), Kudazis (for the handmaiden sun), Ralozis (for the keeper son-in-law), and Zemizis (for the first granddaughter). The sixth day of the week is typically used as a secondary market day called Pelezis (for the younger brother). The seventh day of the week was in most ancient days called Lezenis (for the youngest daughter), but after the fall of Lezena it came to be known instead as Telunis (supposed shortening of an ancient phrase meaning the day of twelve moons). This day is typically reserved for the worship of the gods and for resting from labors for the week. There are four weeks in each month, which makes each month 28 days and almost the length of the period between full moons. There are thirteen months in a year, one for each moon and named after the moon that becomes full during that month, with one moon-day between each. The name of the month is the name of the moon for which it is named, followed by “-yar”. There is an extra day that falls between months, referred to as a group as moon-days though each has its own name, which is the name of the moon that becomes full on that day, followed by “-zis”. In each year, there is also one extra year-day following Averizis, called Niftkatzis (New Year Day). As Averi is the largest of the moons and is actually considered full for two days, this keeps the calendar correctly set for the lunar-solar cycle of 378.1 days per year. Every 10 years, another day is added at this time of the year, called Nifsatrizis (New Decade Day), to help balance the calendar.
It is important to note that, although many cultures have different names for the days or months, that this calendar progression is universal to all known surface-dwelling intelligent races of Arat’, no matter how little they have to do with each other in terms of actual contact. Many of the terran races that spend their lives underground and some of the deep-sea races do not recognize this calendar or any other, for that matter.
Each of the thirteen moon days and the year day and decade days are used for festivals, fairs, special worship and celebrations. They all have some elements in common, but they are also each used for some specific and unique traditional observances.
Averizis and Niftkatzis: Together, these are the festival of the New Year and a grand celebration of the coming of spring, celebrated with the passing of the chill months and the frost. It is accompanied by triumphal music for the power of the gods to again infuse the world with life, renewals of vows and personal contracts, joyous dancing of all sorts, and an abundance of color. Colors for this holiday typically come in the form of floral arrangements, the wearing of ribbons, and powdered colors that are daubed on friends and family in a simple blessing of good luck and happiness for the year. Many people use this holiday as a marker for when they paint their houses. Many ribbons have tiny prayers written on them and are offered at the altars of the gods at sunset or midnight on Niftkatzis. Although Averizis technically falls on the last day of the year, it still accompanies the new year celebration of Niftkatzis and the occasional celebration of Nifsatrizis, making it the longest and most raucous of celebrations. Nifsatrizis is usually used as a special day for consulting the omens and oracles and fortunetellers concerning the future of families and nations and forging political bonds. Many treaties are written, renewed, or broken on this particular once-in-ten-year’s day. Although some cultures travel for this holiday season, there are many cultures where travel remains or becomes treacherous at this time of year.
Mehezis: This is the celebration of the melting of snow and ice and the rising of the precious life-giving waters. It follows the harvesting of the early-season crops, known as “mud fruits” and is accompanied by the drinking of juices and teas made from these products, along with light feasting on favorite delicacies. Activities usually have something to do with the water, such as boating, canoeing, swimming races, water ball-games, water-tag and synchronized swimming performances. It also typically marks the time of the ritual closing of dams to capture yearly water supplies. Many people also use this time for ritual bathing in cool water. Children use this holiday as an excuse to play and splash in the water in any of a million inventive ways. Clergy often use this day as an annual day for the blessing of fountains and the making of holy water.
Dunenzis: This is the festival of the planting, celebrated by most cultures immediately after or directly before late-season planting, feasting on the flesh of game birds and fresh fish, making and decorating with vine garlands, birth and rebirth motifs, and very traditional communal or choral chanting and singing. It is the famous time in which elves complete the fashioning of moon-ivy armor and when the goblins are known to generate their ivy-trap weapons. This is also a favorite festival for lovers, who will often bind themselves together in ivy ropes as a symbol of their love. Many promises of marriage are made on Dunenzis.
Dolaizis: This is the festival of summer flowers, celebrated with decorating with elaborate flower arrangements and garlands, the giving of flower leis and bracelets to friends and family, the making of floral wreaths, the acquisition of new friends through the giving of friendship flower bracelets, and various types of traditional flower-throwing dances. It is also a holiday reserved for many large-scale theatrical performances, usually held in grand open air theaters or amphitheaters. Children love it for the play-acting games that abound during this time, as well as for flower hunts with friends in the meadows. This holiday is also known for stargazing and fortune-telling.
Hamaz’zis: This is considered the festival of weavers, tailors and makers of armor. The simplest part of this celebration (for some) is to purchase or make a new set of clothing or armor and show it off. This is also known as the festival of rags, as many people simply discard their old clothing on this day. It is also known as the best day of the year to acquire a rag rug or tapestry. The principal religious observance of this day is known as the warding ceremony, when magical and spiritual protections and blessings are placed on new clothes of those attending the ceremonies and wards against discarded rags rising up with their own life are put in place. This is all accompanied by feasts held inside huge tents, group dances that result in some kind of weaving or knotting, and decorating houses with new curtains, tapestries and woven rugs. It immediately follows the first annual harvest of silk.
Zatavzis: This is a festival celebrated in many ways, especially from culture to culture. One of the most common thematic elements is the naming and blessing of children, who often do not have a name until this holiday. For those who do not have infants at the naming age, this is also a holiday typically used to make some kind of pilgrimage or voyage. For the devout, this is almost always a pilgrimage, but for most is simply an excuse to take a holiday and visit with family or friends or choose a vacation spot to enjoy. Teamsters and sailors are typically very busy during the time of this holiday. The most prominent gods for this holiday are those of travel, family, friendship, and nature.
Onkatzis: This is the moon-day associated with the second reaping and harvest, immediately following that time of the year. It is a day when most debts come due and must be paid in full or renegotiated. Bankers and bounty hunters become quite busy during this time. As debts are social as well as monetary, for many individuals, it is also a solemn time of meditation, pondering and atonement, when debts to the gods must also be paid. Shrines and temples are often filled to capacity on this holiday with quiet worshipers. In some cultures, they are replaced by devotees in various acts of violent or dismal self-deprecatory behavior carried out for penance. This holiday is also the time to honor the dead and the debts all people have to their ancestors. Flowers, notes, and gifts of various kinds are placed in the graveyards, mausoleums, or crematorium places of the people. Many people wear death-masks, white clothing (funeral color), and arm-bands naming their ancestors. Children sing quiet hymns and many people write vows or resolutions. Rulers use this or the new year ceremony to renew their vows to the people and to have their people renew their vows of fealty.
Navamzis: This is known as the festival mirrors, though that is hardly the only thing celebrated at this time of year. Mirrors and reflective surfaces play a large part in this particular holiday, being displayed all over people, towns and cities. Where mirrors are displayed, calm and careful motion is emphasized and actors and the like are more prone to build human tableau art made up of such artists taking up poses as if they were living statues or paintings. Strange mirror mazes are built and mirrors that twist the image of the viewer are also displayed. Ponds, lakes, fountains, and other bodies of water are stilled during this holiday also, and drinking from these mirror surfaces is taboo. Ceremonial wards against danger from beyond the reflective surfaces are cast by clergy and wizards alike. As this is a time when mirrors are readily available, it is also considered a holiday for separating vigorous physical activity and cautious movements. In most towns, an area for wrestling and races is set aside (as this is another emphasis of the holiday) and kept free of mirrors (because of superstitions about breaking them). This holiday is also known for basket weaving. All of this is accompanied by the imbibing of clear water and eating seasonal foods. There is usually much dancing after the sun sets and the mirrors are put away.
Sutuszis: The festival of Sutuszis is known most frequently as the celebration of the harvest, typically following on the heels of that time of year. As such, it is always accompanied by massive feasting and drinking of all kinds. Fresh harvested foods are accompanied by freshly slaughtered meats, all manner of brewed drinks, and plenty of bread. It is also known as the time of building, when houses and public structures are repaired or erected in communal fashion. Potters are also known to produce and sell their best wares during this time of year. There are huge dances held that emphasize group dances following established traditional patterns directed by the singer and his musicians. Also known as the festival of salt, this holiday is often the time when foods are cured in preparation for the long winter soon to come.
Taz’ivzis: This is called the time of smoke and fire or the red holiday because of the principle activities of the season. This holiday is usually dedicated to the clearing harvested fields by fire, which provides the ground with nutrients for the next year’s harvest and fills the sky with smoke. This is not the only activity adding to the smoke. This also the time when the leaves have fallen from the deciduous trees and are gathered together for children to jump in and then set ablaze to feed the earth. This is also the season following the autumn pruning of plants, when green wood is plentiful and used for roasting nuts and smoking meats and cheeses. It is also in this time of year when the gourds and squashes come to their fullest size. They are harvested and then carved into tools, utensils, drinking vessels, and decorative items like candle holders and vases. Wood carving is also particularly common at this time of year, especially in terms of decorative work and the making of toys and gadgets made from wood. This is the time of year when bronzewood, ironwood, and ironvine are harvested and the curing process begins.
Hanaizis: In the glow of the full moon Hanai, the festival of lights is celebrated. All kinds of lights are lit on the evening prior to Hanaizis to celebrate the holiday, from candles to lanterns to torches to viziers and incense. These lights are often colored or tinted and their smoke is often treated similarly, creating winter panoply of colors and twinkling light. These lights, once lit, are not extinguished until the morning after. As these lights are on for so long, people typically not asleep for many hours during this holiday. The time in which they stay awake is spent eating, drinking, dancing, and singing, but most importantly, in the telling of stories of all kinds. Many cultures also use this as an occasion to give small trinkets as gifts to friends, families, acquaintances, and the needy.
Felsunzis: Called the time of beautiful ice, this holiday is best known for the artwork accompanying its celebration, namely ice and glass sculpture. In cold northern climates, massive ice blocks are culled from lakes and glaciers and carved into magnificent statues for the pleasure of the people. In the warmer southern climes, the ice is replaced by glass, glassteel or clear ceramics. Ice, sand, or water is also used during this holiday for skiing or skating. In the north, people enjoy ice skating and downhill skiing. In the desert countries, the seasonal enjoyment is sand-sailing or skiing down sand dunes. In the wet countries, water skiing or dolphin-backing is favored. In countries where none of these are available, typically some other kind of vehicle-based race is favored. This holiday is also marked by and known for a preponderance of decorated evergreen trees, cacti, or berry bushes.
Maraizis: Known as the day of preparing all needful things, this is a time at the end of winter when most people clear out of storage anything they no longer wish to keep and take stock of what food stuff they remaining for the year. At this time, excess food stuff is made into cakes of waybread that can last a full year and will be different from house to house. This food travels well, thus its name, and people are known to store it or sell it as needed. When selling this bread, sellers will stand at their door or walk around town, ringing bells or gongs or taping on metal or glass. Similarly, anyone discarding or selling wares from their stores ring our notice that they are selling. Wind-chimes are sold by the scads on this day, as are bells, gongs, marimbas, and other instruments of the like. Thus, the holiday has also become known as bell-day and many cities that have large bells will have them all ring out at dawn and play music on the bells to close the day at sundown. This is also the time that seeds are counted and traded in preparation for the early and first plantings, so it is a very busy time for farmers and towns-folk alike.