Thermadorian Celebrations and Traditions

Nomadic Weddings | City Weddings | Festival of Lights | Mooncalling
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Wedding Traditions Among the Nomads

Engagements and marriages are great and joyous events for Thermador's nomads, signifying the extension of family, not individuals. For this reason, they are accompanied by great celebrations. Marriage signifies a change in position of the married couple as full and productive members of the community. The customs and rituals for engagements and marriages described here are traditional and vary for the many nomadic tribes throughout the Quintak.


Most nomads follow strict rules of sexual behavior. He or she is expected to marry someone within their particular tribe and most conform by marrying within their group. This is a way of maintaining tribal and social purity. In the case of a mixed marriage, many tribes consider the children as part of their tribe only if the father is part of the tribe.

Nomads expect women to be virgins when they marry and to remain faithful to their husbands until death. The potential for defilement is greatly heightened at marriage because nomads perceive it as the end of a woman's innocence.

For many tribes it is the parents, and not the young people, who arrange the marriage. The prospective bride and groom might be consulted, but their opinions are rarely considered in making a final decision. According to these tribes, it is the parents' essential and important duty to find a bride suitable for their son. They carefully consider all the young, unmarried women in the group, evaluating their individual qualities.

In other tribes, the boy does the courting and the girl accepts a marriage offer before the parents are ever consulted. In these cases, small gifts are normally exchanged between the future bride and groom. Many nomadic tribes still maintain the institution of bride price. This is a payment made by the family of the groom to the family of the bride. It compensates for the loss of a daughter and guarantees she will be treated well.

The discussion of bride price can be a long one, centering on the estimated value of the future bride. All the future bride's desired qualities are taken into consideration. In addition, the girl's father calculates how much his daughter has cost him since birth, since he is, in effect, giving her away --his money and training have helped make her what she is. At these meetings, the discussions can become quite serious. Sometimes it is necessary to call in friends as witnesses to the bride's good qualities. They may argue for a higher price on her behalf, or to call in other friends to mediate.

When an agreement is reached, and the bride price is accepted, the meeting ends with the father of the future bride drinking a symbolic glass of Vione. This means the boy has been formally approved as a husband for his daughter, under the agreed conditions. Following the formal agreement of terms, there is often a banquet, complete with music, singing and dancing. The bride-to-be and her family often feign great sorrow at having to leave each other and the groom's family may complain about the high bride price they had to pay. In the end, they decide that the price is fair for a bride who will be a good wife to their son.

Frequently, a few days after the agreement has been made, a ceremony called a turas is held. This event is attended by both friends and relatives of the couple. The symbol of this joyous celebration is a bottle of Vione or Esashek wrapped in a brightly colored silk handkerchief, brought to the ceremony by the young man's father. A necklace of gold coins is traditionally attached to the bottle. The groom-to-be's father takes the necklace of coins and puts it around the future bride's neck, and warmly embraces his future daughter-in-law. The necklace makes it clear to all that the girl is now engaged and not available as a bride to any other man. The groom-to-be's father drinks from the bottle and passes it around to the guests. When the bottle is emptied, it is refilled with Vione or Esashek for use at the wedding celebration.


In some marriages, the bride and groom will join hands in front of the chief of a tribe, or an elder of that tribe, and promise to be true to each other. A few nomadic wedding rites are centered on bread. In one rite, the bride and groom each take a piece of bread and place a drop of their blood on the bread. They then exchange and eat each other's bread. In another ritual, the young couple sit down, surrounded by relatives and friends. A small amount of salt and bread is then placed on the knees of the bride. The groom takes some of the bread, puts salt on it, and eats it. The bride does the same. The union of salt and bread symbolizes a harmonious future together for the groom and bride.

The informal, joyous festivities celebrating the marriage can go on for several days. A huge feast is served on these happy occasions. There is sometimes an open fire over which whole pigs, sides of beef, game, chicken, or goose are roasted. There might be huge platters of fried potatoes and boiled cabbage stuffed with rice and chopped meat, with herbs and garlic. Drink, too, is served as generously. Musicians play traditional rhythmic tunes and there are songs and dances.

Wedding gifts almost always consist of money. Some families may save much of their money to present as gifts at weddings. These money gifts will help the new couple start their new lives together somewhat financially secure. When the celebration has ended, it is time for the groom to take his bride to his home.

The bride's family kisses the girl and they weep as they unbraid her hair, a symbol for her new marital status. Her new mother-in-law helps the bride knot her caille, or head scarf, a sign that she is a married woman. She is never seen again without this caille in public.

Wedding Traditions In the City

A traditional Thermadorian city wedding lasts for a week and begins with the Ceiliúr (proposal), where the groom's father, accompanied by close relatives and friends, visits the bride's father to seek his daughter's hand for his son. The ceremony revolves around the traditional Hi'jicha tea. This is followed by the Margadh, which involves negotiations between the two families and mutual agreement on a marriage contract.

The negotiations between the two families are relayed through pages who run through the city and pin red ribbons to door fronts. The wedding preparations get under way with the colorful Bainise Péint, where friends of the bride decorate her hands and feet with with a temporary, rust-colored dye mized from cactus flowers. This is followed by the fun-filled Táille, where the bride's friends tease the groom to pay a fee for decorating his bride.

Relatives from the bridegroom's family would then arrive in procession at the bride's house to a warm welcome complete with songs, dance and music. Women from the bride's family display the Domheasta, comprising the girl's clothes, gifts from the groom's family, jewelry and other items. The women and men sit separately, and guests bring gifts, which is traditionally food, scarves or money.

The wedding ends with the Teasc -- the bride's departure for a dune outside the city, perched atop a camel fitted with a piliúr, a special and comfortable saddle. She is escorted by friends and family, who walk beside the camel, until they reach a sand dune, atop which has been set an aírse, or ceremonial tent.

Here the bride is helped down from the camel and joins the groom before a member of the Order of the Rising Sun or a member of the Pyromantic Council, depending on the family's preferences.

The officiate announces the couple's marriage, thus making it official, and then the groom steps forward, breaking a silk-covered glass with his sandal. In the cases of Pyromancers, sometimes the glass is first placed over a lit candle, allowing the fire to go out -- thus symbolizing the couple's new devotion to each other and not to Pyromancy.

A week later, the bride pays a visit to her parents and presents them with a sheep, some rice, sugar and butter, to indicate her well-being in a house of abundant resources.

The traditional wedding costumes are richly embellished with fine hand embroidery, worked in cross-stitch. The design is embroidered across the front and back of the dress, down the sleeves and along the main seams.

Customarily, a prospective bridegroom pays the bride's father a dowry or bride price, part of which he uses to buy jewelry for his daughter.

Celebrations and Traditions

Festival of Lights

By Tancreal Firestorm

In Thermador the Festival of Lights is a celebration of the end of the hot days and the start of cooler ones, or 'the new year' as many Thermadorians call it. Normally this is celebrated anywhere from the mid- to end of Soothcool. This celebration is normally only celebrated in the cities, but some of the smaller towns and villages have begun to celebrate it as well as people from the larger cities join their families in these places.

During the Festival of Lights candles are spread around the outside of the houses. These candles are lit at dusk and their light is said to draw Sulevia eye upon the family whose candles are lit so that she will send them luck and prosperity in the New Year. In some areas people decorate both the inside and outside of their homes with candles and lanterns. In Wadi Medani the Cnoc Liath is traditionally lit up all over with a myriad of candles, lanterns, and torches. It can be seen for miles outside of the City for this one night.

About an hour after sunset on the day the festival is to be celebrated in Wadi Medani, the people are treated to grand fire displays by the students of Cnoc Liath that light up the night sky. Many nomads will make pilgrimages to the City just to watch this celebration.

To add to the festivities, street fairs are held in many of the larger cities. Girls and women dress attractively during the festival. They wear colorful clothing and new jewelry, and their hands are decorated with henna designs. Among the many activities that take place at the street fairs are performances by jugglers, acrobats, snake charmers, and fortune tellers. Food stalls are set up, selling sweet and spicy foods. People are also treated to rides on camels and Quiths. Activities for children, such as puppet shows, occur throughout the day.

Special sweets are made for this festival. Most of the bakeries and candy makers will make sweet treats for the Festival of Lights that are not available at any other time of the year.

Fomhail: Mooncalling Celebration

By Tancreal Firestorm

Each year members of each Thermadorian tribe make a pilgrimage to Wadi Medani to observe Fomhail, to celebrate what is also known as Mooncalling in other areas of Hyathis. It is believed that any person who fails to celebrate Fomhail will incur the wrath of ancestral shades and die. Few Thermadorians, whatever their socioeconomic status, fail to observe this annual ritual although they may send familial representatives to the large City while observing the ritual in their villages.

Fomhail is the day on which Thermadorians assemble in their homes, whether in their ancestral homes in Wadi Medani or their everyday homes in their villages, to share a ritual meal with dead and living family members. While this ritual meal is the central Fomhail event, the traditional celebration extends from four days in some villages to several weeks in others. The festival has been known to last up to four weeks in Wadi Medani.

The classic pattern of Fomhail events in includes opening the fishing season, participating in preparatory rituals of gift giving and house purifying, eating the Fomhail meal, and performing the Fomhail dance. During this period, normal activities are suspended, while the Thermadorians focus on renewing relations with one another and participating in ritual activities. Twins are honored during this time as a special gift from Sulevia. In some tribes men may shave all of their hair from their head and face, symbolizing death and new life.

Two days before the Fomhail feast, Thermadorian tribesmen return to their ancestral homes in Wadi Medani. A wise man or woman ritually clears the road for the returning villagers. The arrival of the villagers inaugurates a period of social harmony in which, on pain of death from avenging ancestral shades, debt payments cannot be demanded, and oaths cannot be sworn.

On Fomhail Eve day daughters-in-law bring mothers-in-law firewood, sons-in-law give bottles of Esashek to fathers-in-law, and tribal chieftans send presents to their nearest neighboring village. Senior women (wise women) in Thermadorian tribes smear ashes on door frames and window frames to protect houses from evil spirits that may have entered the village or town. On Fomhail Eve, drums are played loudly to warn people to stay within their houses, while ancestral spirits walk the streets. Late at night the Chieftan sacrifices a sheep and shares it with senior members of the village.

Following the festal meal, the Fomhail dance is performed. The dances are joyful, boisterous, jostling dances, and people may dress however they wish and sing songs ridiculing prominent personages. While the Fomhail dance is performed, all customary social statuses and constraints are in abeyance.

Finally, at the very end of the Fomhail festival in Wadi Medani, Thermadorian children are allowed to run free and loot the markets for presents.

For more information on Thermador, contact:

The Thermador Region Leader

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