Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter in Stardell

Easter, like all holidays in Stardell, is a Big Deal. In our kingdom, Easter is a celebration of the arrival of the equinox and the changing of the seasons. We celebrate longer days, shorter nights, baby animals, warmer weather, and fresh buds, blooms, and blossoms with dancing and a feast that stands to the envy of the Gods themselves.

In Stardell, a small percentage of our young animals are chosen to be ritually slaughtered in celebration of the holiday. All of the villagers gather in the town square to give small blessings and gifts to the soon-to-be-deceased lambs and calves. The animals are then killed as humanely as possible, and rationed out to the villagers. Each of our loyal subjects also gets a chick as a gift from the Royal Court, but these aren't eaten until the Autumn Solstice celebrations and provide a constant source of companionship and eggs to the townspeople until then.

After the town square has been painted red with the bounty of our lands, the Queen and I head down to the pastures to console the friends and family of the recently deceased animals. We present them with the villager's gifts and pass along their blessings before returning to the castle to help MorMor greet foreign emissaries, ambassadors, and leaders who have come to dine with us. Once they have all arrived and are deemed suitably entertained by our gardens, libraries, verandas, dancers, jesters, singers, and story-tellers, we three ascend to our chambers, where our handmaidens assist us in powering and perfuming ourselves in addition to choosing one of three new outfits the castle seamstresses had prepared for us earlier in the week.

The castle dogs are also carefully and lovingly draped in the best fabrics gold can purchase. The castle cat still stubbornly refuses to get dressed.

Eventually, and much to my relief, as I'm not allowed to sample the goods before supper, the feast is ready! The first course consists, as always, of exotic imported fruits from far-flung lands. The main meal is, of course, the veal and the lamb, both of which have been seasoned to perfection by the castle chefs, along with a hearty array of steamed, fried, and roasted vegetables. Once everyone has had their fill, it's time for dessert. Our table positively groans under the sheer number of pies, cakes, cookies, biscuits, brownies and puddings that our devoted staff so lovingly bake each and every year. By the time it's all over, I'm stuffed!

To give our guests (and ourselves) time to digest before dancing the night away, our musicians play soft, soothing music that encourages a wide variety of conversations and debates over our empty plates. It is, all in all, a very peaceful affair, thanks to our diplomatic Queen, who takes great care to seat friend next to friend with enemies far, far away.

Eventually, the soft and sweet music turns to something a little livelier. Ever since I came of age, that's been my cue to start the evening off by inviting a beautiful foreign princess to dance with me. After the first dance has been had and throughly enjoyed, our other guests slowly begin to take the floor with their chosen partners. At the end of the evening, you can be sure that great food and great fun was had by all.

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