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The Night of Remembrance (Orcish Halloween)

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Patrick-Leigh, Oct 19, 2021.

  1. Patrick-Leigh

    Patrick-Leigh Sage

    Since Halloween is approaching, I figured I'd share a few ideas I have for an Orcish holiday in my story setting that has some similarities to Halloween, not only in how it's celebrated in America but in other countries. This holiday has the working name of the Night of Remembrance. Here's the basic rundown of the main idea behind it:

    In Orcish cultures, the dead are not buried. They are nearly always cremated in order to make absolutely certain that their bodies do not become infected by the Blight and turn into Ghouls. The bone ash of the deceased is then used to make a number of porcelain figurines (which are often subjected to Transmutation to make them highly durable.) These figurines depict the person from whose ashes they were created. The size of these figurines varies. There will be some that are about the size of an action figure, which will be given to the relatives and closest friends of the deceased individual to be kept inside of small mausoleums found on most Orc estates. In addition to these, many tiny figurines that can be added to special necklaces or bracelets are made and given to friends and family alike.

    The purpose of these figurines is to help Orcs to remember the departed better. My Orcs are steeped in symbolism yet devoid of mysticism, so they don't believe these figurines contain the spirit of the departed. However, the fact that they are made with the ashes of the departed means that, in both a literal and figurative sense, a piece of that person remains with them. Thus, the Orc can touch the figurine on the bracelet or necklace and reflect on what that individual would do in the same circumstances the Orc is facing at present. This is because my Orcs are a "physical people." Touching a figurine that looks like a departed loved one and is made with some of their ashes helps the Orc to recall things about them much easier than they could on their own.

    As for the figurines in the mausoleums, they are often kept safe and secured except on certain holidays or for important events, like weddings and funerals. For the Night of Remembrance, the figurines are brought out and set on small tables lined up beside or in front of the entrance of a home or estate. Around each figurine will be platters loaded with small treats (such as cookies, biscuits, and especially petite fours) that were the favorites of the person depicted by the figurine (or figurines in the case of married couples, such as grandparents, or siblings.) During the Night of Remembrance, children (who may or may not be in costumes, I haven't decided) will visit the homes and gather in front of the tables. While they sample the various treats (more than a few of which are actually pretty healthy) the Orc adults standing behind the tables will share stories about the departed individuals, some of them humorous, but most of which contain some kind of life lesson that the person either taught them or demonstrated through their actions. Not all of these stories are flattering. In some cases, they're cautionary tales to discourage the children from engaging in the same kind of bad behaviors as the departed individual did. Thus, the Night of Remembrance is a night for children to learn from the departed and for adults to maintain the memories of their deceased loved ones (and perhaps remind themselves of the lessons they taught them.)

    Those are all the ideas I have for the Night of Remembrance so far. Beyond that, I only know that it is celebrated in Autumn and usually around the end of the harvests. I'm trying to come up with ideas for other things that could be done on the Night of Remembrance, especially the kinds of games that could be played and, if costumes are worn, what sort of costumes are worn. I'm open to suggestions on these and any other ideas you might have.

    Oh, and if you're wondering if any of the figurines on the tables ever get broken by careless children who bump the tables or who try to grab them, no, they don't, because they've been subjected to Transmutation for that specific scenario. Orcs know how children can be and they take necessary precautions.
    Miles Lacey, Orc Knight and CupofJoe like this.
  2. Rosemary Tea

    Rosemary Tea Maester

    This sounds more like a Dia de los Muertos vibe than Halloween. In that vein, perhaps the costumes would involve something like calavera face paint?

    Do these Orcs have a personification of death? A Grim Reaper figure or anything like that? If so, that could be a popular costume. If they have a Queen or King of the Dead who has a whole court, then dressing up as the courtiers would be another option. Maybe the celebration would involve pageants featuring those figures. (Not necessarily on the night itself, but perhaps earlier in the day, or, if this is a multiple day holiday, on a different day.)

    For games, bobbing for apples comes to mind. And piƱata. And divination games. There are lots of classic ones associated with Halloween that might work for your setting.
  3. Patrick-Leigh

    Patrick-Leigh Sage

    My Orcs are BIG on face paint, so the calavera face paints would certainly be in line with their cultures. Games related to divination, though, would not be something they'd have, since they don't subscribe to mysticism. That said, I could see some of the divination games being the basis for games that have symbolic meaning. As I mentioned, my Orcs are steeped in symbolism. The nut boating game, for instance, could work in that regard, if I can figure out what the symbolism of a candle in a nut floating on water could represent. Or maybe they throw something into the water to make waves and see whose nut boats avoid capsizing and of the ones that don't, which ones have a candle that remains lit. Repeat until only one remains.


    Winner gets a prize of some kind, probably in the form of food. Specifically the nutty variety, probably the same nuts whose shells were used to make the boats.

    As for a personification of death, well, there is the Archon of Death and Repose, Thon, a goddess who was originally a goddess of Arcane Magic and is also the Matron Deity of Faeries. (The Unseelie tend to be more closely affiliated with her.) And, bringing her up, I'm realizing that the Orcs would probably be just as inclined to have her husband, Haleon, be another influence on this holiday (which could be where all the treats come from, in fact.) Haleon is the Patron Deity of Faeries (the Seelie tend to identify with him more) as well as the Archon of Mischief and Merriment (that is, fun and games.) Thon is heavily inspired by Mary Poppins and Morticia Addams while Haleon is heavily inspired by Harlequin (in fact, that's one of his nicknames) and Gomez Addams. As you may be suspecting, the dynamic of their relationship is very much inspired by the relationship between Gomez and Morticia Addams.


    If you're wondering why Thon, a goddess of the macabre, married Haleon, a god of silliness, it's really quite simple:

    Anyway, while they are the parent deities of Faeries, both Thon and Haleon are worshipped by lots of people of lots of different races. They also don't show favoritism toward the Faeries. Thon is a friend to all those who grieve or give the bodies of the dead repose (and who oppose the Undead) while Haleon is a friend to anyone who brings joy and happiness to those around them. The Orcs would have a place for both of them in their cultures and the Day of Remembrance could be as much about celebrating these two deities as it is about remembering the lessons given by those who have departed. Solemnity and silliness mixed together in one long night of festivities, essentially. You honor and remember the dead but also do things to celebrate life, which, in a way, is a big part of how you honor the dead - by living.

    Which gets me thinking that rather than "trick or treat" it's "trick and treat" on the Night of Remembrance. What if, in addition to getting treats and life lessons from the homes they visited, children also got to play some kind of game? Maybe each home will have some sort of game or activity the children can play in - like the nut boating game I was considering - so that after they get their lessons and their treats, they get to have some fun. I do know that Orcs tend to live in large houses (because they have large families) so there's almost always a courtyard of some kind at the front of the property where a game could be played. One side of the courtyard could be where the tables with the treats are set up and the other could be where the game is located. So, you go to the one side, first, and have to listen to a story with a life lesson before you get your treat, then you move to the other side of the courtyard where you get to play a game. Then you move on to the next house.

    Also, upon further consideration, I can see the children not eating the treats on the spot. That's an option, but I can see them carrying a specific type of basket and putting the treats they want to save for later into it to take home with them. Or, perhaps, the idea is to take them home to give to older siblings and other relatives? And while they hand them out, they retell the stories that they heard that went along with the treat, to show that they were, in fact, paying attention. Not that most Orc children wouldn't have been paying attention. When it comes to stories, Orc children are VERY attentive. Actually, that doesn't really go away when they become adults, now that I think about it. Orcs in my setting LOVE stories.


    Ok, so... yeah, I'm thinking that the Night of Remembrance is, most of all, a night of stories, which is certainly within Haleon's wheelhouse, since entertaining people with stories is one of the things he does best.

    This is turning into a really fun holiday, isn't it?
    Rosemary Tea likes this.

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