The Emperor of Crieste, in his divine wisdom, determines all units of measurement, including the span of the days, months, and years. Following the end of the Interregnum, the empire adopted a sidereal calendar of 365 days, but many of the smaller nations hold to the older lunar calendar.
Every nation and religion celebrates a host of holy days throughout the year, and travelers can expect to encounter any number of festivals and feasts as they travel the North. While universal celebrations are rare, the following holidays are common to all cultures:
Swordfall: Spring in the Northlands is the season of war. Foes abound, and even nations of common cause have reason to settle border disputes with blade and lance. Swordfall is observed on the Spring Equinox, marking the customary beginning of the war season, when roads are passable and the weather tenable. Swordfall is traditionally celebrated with martial tournaments and tests of courage, but just as often the holiday heralds a full-scale invasion, presaging a season of rapine, fire, and death.
Day of Fates: Celebrated on Summer Solstice, the Day of Fates is the culmination of a weeklong celebration honoring patron deities and local saints. On the last day of the week, newborns are named, couples renew their vows of love, and oaths to lord and liege are declared anew. It is a common practice for knights to embark on quests on this holiday, and it is deemed a blessed day for wizards to choose apprentices. Adventuring companies often choose this day to make their first vows of brotherhood.
Harvestmoon: Falling on the full moon closest to the Autumn Equinox, Harvestmoon is a celebration of thanksgiving and preparation for the winter ahead. The dead are honored with tributes of wine and sweetmeats, and priests go from house to house offering blessings in return for the same. The revels stretch from moonrise to moonfall and lively celebrations are believed to ward off winterís chill.
Forge Feast: Observed on the Winter Solstice, Forge Feast celebrates the rebirth of the year, when hearth fires are relit from the forges of village smithies; woe is the smith who has let his forge fire die. The day culminates in an exchange of gifts, and a single enormous feast with every member of the community bringing an offering to the table.
Taxfest: The collection of fair taxes is considered an integral part of the maintenance of society, and is therefore holy to the goddess Justicia. Taxfest is a holiday celebrated annually on 15 Gozran where priests of the Master of the First Vault accompany tax collectors in their duties. The church officials monitor these activities to make sure that the process is conducted respectfully and justly, and that citizens know that the process is monitored. Once the taxes are collected, a large feast is held at the local temple of Justicia where everyone is invited. This is done to make the day a bit more positive for the citizens and let them voice their concerns and ideas as to where the monies levied should best be applied.
Burning Blades: Burning Blades is a religious holiday held annually on 10 Sarenith. It is celebrated in honor of the god of light Delvyr and is actually the culmination of a month-long summer festival held in her honor. Burning Blades focuses on the sun and the gods' powers of healing. It gets its name from the dance of the burning blades, in which worshipers dip ceremonial weapons in pitch or another flammable substance, and dance with the burning brands in hand. Legends recount that if one of Delvyr's faithful is in mortal danger on this festival day, his or her weapon will burn with a holy fire. This has proven to actually be true so many times throughout history, that those with bad intentions generally avoid the Delvyr's faithful on this day.
Sunwrought Festival: The Sunwrought Festival is held annually on the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. It honors the god of the sun Delvyr, who is said to pay particular attention to his worshipers on this day. The holiday is celebrated with dances, the giving of gifts, fireworks, paper streamers and kite flying. Special markets in which people trade their finest goods are also a common occurrence.
Ritual of Stardust: The Ritual of Stardust is one of the few formal religious holidays in honor of the goddess Ireth. It is held on both the summer and winter solstices. Followers of the Song of Spheres gather at dusk and light enormous bonfires and hold feasts, watching the sparks and embers float out into the darkening sky. After it is fully dark, the celebrants chant and sing songs as they watch the fires burn low. When only embers remain, sand mixed with ground star gems (either star rubies, star sapphires or rose quartz) is thrown on them or into the air downwind. At this point it is common to make proclamations of love and friendship and of promised journeys to come. The twinkling of the sand is thought to mirror the night sky and demonstrate Ireth's witnessing these pronouncements