The Time of Plenty

Welcome to the Time of Plenty in the fictional 6th century world of y Ddraig.

Following the harvest and a busy month of preserving or storing food, Plenty was about consuming all those perishables that would not last over winter. Humans did it, animals did it. Everyone under the roof basically ate everything that wasn’t stored/preserved and fattened up ahead of a few lean months. The weather was now cold enough that they spent most of their time indoors with the exception of the fire feast on the Winter Solstice midway through the month which got winter off to a warm, gluttonous start.

Locked inside in the cold, industry turns to crafts like weaving or pottery making, repairing the year’s damage and making new materials for the year to come.

[Note: You can read more about how I arrived at ‘Plenty’ here…]

The Time of Smoke

Look up. Tonight you should see the moon in the state that demarks one month from another in the fictional world of y Ddraig – the quarter moon. Half dark, half light (which of course is a quarter of the whole moon).

This night marks the start of the ‘Time of Smoke’ in Dark Age Cymry. Remember that last month was all about gathering the harvest and the livestock in from the forests ready for the onset of winter (the Dark Time of Year) and celebrating the start of a new year? Well, the party is over now and the coming two forten-nights are all about hard core preparation to survive the season to come.

Villagers spent the first part of the (cold but not yet icy) month securing the grain they had harvested (some for consumption some for re-seeding next season’s crops) but they spent most of it smoking (curing, drying) the vast amounts of meat they harvested last month. Up to half their animals. Between the endless smoking (which took days and weeks to achieve given they preserved as much of the animal as they could) and the fact that they were now living indoors most of the day and night where smoke from the fire in their shelter permeated everything, this month is aptly named.

But there was ceremony in this month, too. Those livestock who survived Gathering were walked between ceremonial fires and ritually ‘fumigated’ to protect them against the coming winter.

So… this month was all about smoke in the fictional 6th century world of y Ddraig.

The time of ‘Gathering’

Welcome to the time of Gathering in the y Ddraig world. It begins on the night in (our) ‘October’ when the moon is fully half-dark and half-light in the northern hemisphere sky. The quarter moon. It also contains one of the most significant feast weeks of the entire Sun’s March — when the veil between the living and the dead is finest.

In Dark Age Cymry there are not four seasons as we have today, there is merely the one, long, relatively unchanging season punctuated by one distinguishing, punishing season of a few month’s length. This is why the passage of time is counted in ‘winters’, because they are so marked in their difference. Just as their ‘day’ in y Ddraig begins at sunset (which is why the passage of one and two weeks is counted in nights [‘se’nnight’ or seven nights and ‘forten-night’ or fourteen nights]), so their year or ‘Sun’s March’ begins at the onset of the ‘Dark Time of Year’.

The people of y Ddraig will spend the first se’nnight of Gathering finishing up their harvest and retrieving their livestock from fields and forests.  Those animals fit enough to survive winter and breed another generation will be kept, while the young, old and weak will be slaughtered to feed the village through the Dark Time of Year.

Gathering gets its name because this is also the time that work starts to centralise around the home/village and people gather together in celebration and in preparation for winter including visitors from other villages. Travelling bards arrive and begin to tell expansive tales of politics, adventure and intrigue.

On the full moon, a week-long feast begins to celebrate the successful harvest, honour the dead and mark the start of the new year known in the world of y Ddraig as the Old Soul’s Night or the Hag Feast when the barrier between the upper world and the other world is flimsy. Elsewhere this is called Samhain (pron. ‘sow-ween’) and later in Cymry it will be called All Hallow’s Eve (Hallowe’en).

Food is abundant during Gathering and the villagers will never be freer because the work of most of the year is winding up but the work of winter has not yet begun in earnest. The weather is still good enough to move around, friends and neighbours are gathering for celebration, bards are visiting with all the news and important communication from the year. It is essentially a fornight-long ‘weekend’ leading up to a week-long Hag Feast with a week’s go-slow to recover.

 

The time of ‘Song’

It’s the Autumn Equinox in the northern hemisphere and the ‘Time of Song’ in the world of y Ddraig. The last se’nnights of the Light Time of Year and the end of the full Sun’s March are upon us.

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Known as ‘Cantlos’ in the Celtic Coligny Calendar, at this time of year in 6th century Cymry the birds are particularly vocal—busy learning their arias before migrating south or when establishing/defending their territories if they do not leave for the winter. For the people of Cymry, their days are consumed with harvesting crops. Their nights are given over to the songs of the Bards who have travelled all summer and who arrive in readiness for the time of Gathering which begins two fortenights from now.

Happy Equinox, everyone.

[See the full Calendar of y Ddraig or learn more about how I chose y Ddraig’s calendar.]

It’s time to Makepeace

Welcome to the most political month of the ancient calendar, Makepeace.

In the fictional world of y Ddraig, Makepeace follows the month in which marriages and trades were accomplished. Thus, the next month is a time for arbitration in which any disputes arising from broken betrothals, trade or unsettled claims are resolved. It is a time in which the lord of the land will be sure to return to his stronghold and make himself available for this arbitration as adjudicator as part of his peace-keeper responsibilities.

This month is well suited to travelling to your Lord’s stronghold, the weather is excellent and the days are long. Plenty of time to be seen and heard by your Lord.

This is also the time that some harvesting begins in your absence, depending on the crops you are raising.

Happy Birthday Horses Everywhere!

A quick note to wish a very happy birthday to the horses of the world today, August 1.

Although southern-hemisphere horses are born year-round courtesy of modern technology and the agricultural patterns, up in the Northern Hemisphere their births still cluster on either side of this date and so, today, it’s used as a standardised date for the purposes of aging horses. Much like kids are classified into one school year or another based on the relationship to the year-start date.

But, this date has much older origins. Back in the days of the Celts, the date we now know as 1st August was Lughnasadh (‘Lugh’s day’) and a week-long fire festival would be held on the days around that date to honour him. At that gathering, people would trade their most valuable commodities– women (who were bethrothed at this event) and horses (the youngest of which were born in the month just gone). The people of ancient times may well have fallen into the habit of ‘starting the clock’ on the ages of their horses (particularly foals) at that date because it was the first time the animals came into their possession and they could know their age first-hand.

Welcome to Claim-time

One of two carefully political months, welcome to Claim-time in the fictional 6th century world of y Ddraig.

This month features the much anticipated fire festival mid-way through the month (on 1 August) at which horses were traded and bonds between men and women were brokered.

The name comes from the practice of first ‘claiming’ the personthat you wished to bind to during the fire festival in a kind of extended betrothal (engagement) . The couple concerned lived together as a bonded pair for a year-and-a-day after which they could bind forever or go their separate ways with no recriminations. Those who chose permanence ‘claimed’ their partner formally at the following year’s fire festival and at midnight (the ‘day’ part of ‘a year and a day’) it was done. Bound.

Similarly, horse deals were brokered during the fire-festival in Claim-time. Breeding was negotiated at one year’s festival and then the resulting weaned foals were delivered the following year. Or they were simply offered for sale/trade during the week long festival.

Finally, this month was the time to be undertaking challenges that celebrated skill and prowess. This was true of the men as much as their horses. Showing off, in other words, to attract the mate (or buyer) of your choice.

The Time of Horses

This is the Time of Horses (or Horse-time) in the fictional 6th century world of y Ddraig.

So named because in the northern hemisphere oestrus (ovulation) is triggered in horses by the longer hours of daylight between June and August. The mares who became pregnant last Horse-time have carried their foals through winter and an eleven month gestation and they have begun giving birth so that, by the time of Horses, the woods are filled with foals leaping about. This moon horses are traded and celebrated and stallions start looking with interest at any mare without a foal at her teat (and some with!).

This is also the time of the summer solstice and so yet another week-long feast is conducted in which all but the most necessary work ceases to mark the height of summer and acknowledge/respect the waning of the year and the approach of winter.

The Time of Brightness

As the moon hits that unmissable half bright/half dark phase of the first quarter of its phase, the time of Brightness begins in the fictional world of y Ddraig.

Days are getting long, now, and the moon and sun are both on their highest arcs which mean shorter, bright nights and long, sunny days.

Work dominates during Brightness, given the abundance of light to work by and the absence of any feasts/observances in this month. But the work can’t dampen the spirits of the people of Cymry, high on the positive effects of sunlight on their skin and happier than they’ll ever be, you can be sure there is a lot of quiet celebrations happening of an evening under the high moon.

Welcome to ‘Rise’

Winter is no longer coming. In fact it’s gone.

This is the time known as Rise in the fictional world of y Ddraig and the start of the Light Time of Year. This month, the crops sown during last month’s Thaw begin to emerge and (as the name suggests) grow taller. The growing moon is the year’s most auspicious moon beneath which to raise new food. By now days are long enough and warm enough that everyone returns to their full work schedules.

Thus, sowing ideally needs to be complete before the moon begins to wax (grow bright) and when the moon is at its brightest, everyone celebrates with a fertility and fire feast to ensure an abundant season ahead.

After such a long winter they’re more than ready to party again!