Races and Cultures: The Imperial Calendar
The Empire of Splendour uses two calendar systems; an Official Calendar that simply divides the year into manageable chunks, and a Ceremonial Calendar based upon lunar cycles, marked by celebration days.
The Official Calendar of the Empire was created over one thousand years ago by Empress Delicate Fortitude. It divides the 360 day year of Conclave into eight months, each month lasting 45 days. The months are simply named First Month, Second Month, up to Eighth Month and the days are also named only for their numeric value.
Every First Day, Fifteenth Day, Thirtieth Day and Forty Fifth Day is deemed an official holiday. On these days, it is illegal for anyone of Magisterial rank to work, although not for anyone else. Thus legal and governmental business is not conducted on these days, except in the case of national emergency.
The Ceremonial Calendar predates the official calendar by centuries, and it is commonly believed to have been given to mankind by the Divine Emperor. It divides the year into 12 lunar months of 29 days each, starting and ending on the dark of the moon (meaning that full moons occur on the fifteenth of every lunar month). Each lunar month is known as a Victory and represent stages in the life of the Divine Emperor (and by extension the life that all Imperial Citizens should try to achieve). The last day of each Victory is marked by a holiday of some sort.
- Victory Over Darkness represents the birth of the Emperor as a Sun God, thus bringing light and warmth to the Mortal Realm. The Victory ends with the Festival of Lights, with torchlight processions through towns and villages. Good Imperial citizens are expected to keep a fire burning constantly throughout this Victory.
- Victory Over Drought. The first quest of the Sun God as a young man was to defeat an ogre-demon who was hoarding the waters of the world. The Water Festival ends with a recreation of this event, and also sees children hurling origami water bombs at each other and their elders. Decorations of an aquatic theme are very much in evidence, and in some parts of the Empire mass river bathings occur.
- Victory Over Want. Once light and water were brought to the Mortal Realm, things could begin to grow. Jade Gibbon brought the Three Grains to mankind. The Laburnum Festival sees Imperial towns festooned with flowers, fertility rituals performed over the fields and feasts prepared and eaten.
- Victory Over Fear. Although the world was now a fertile place, it was ruled by evil warlords. The Sun God took up battle with these tyrants and defeated them. In return, the grateful people made him Emperor. Ascension Day is when many offerings of incense, prayers and other gifts are made in the temples to the Divine Emperor. Effigies of the evil warlords (often based on some historical enemy) are paraded through towns and then publicly burned.
- Victory Over Passions. There was a time just after his ascension that the Divine Emperor had to fight against his own worst instincts. At first he was almost as bad as the tyrants that he had defeated but eventually he learned restraint and mercy, becoming a noble ruler. The Day of Quiet Contemplation is a day for peaceful meditation and examination of one's own life. It is common on this day to make resolutions to better oneself for the coming year. Priests and other pious individuals spend the day (sometimes the whole Victory) in total silence.
- Victory Over Solitude. The Emperor was alone on the throne until he met, fell in love with, and married Lady East. This is a popular month for weddings and it is also considered particularly propitious to conceive during this month. The Children's Festival at the end is a traditional day for declarations of love, proposals of marriage and so on, but more importantly to most it is a day when children are given the run of the towns, and adults must obey them for a change.
- Victory Over Toil. The Divine Emperor ordered his underlings to teach the ways of civilisation (the Nine Arts) to mankind, that their lot in the Mortal Realms might be improved. On Crafts Day, local artisans display their skills in contests and country fairs. There are often competitions based on skill or artistry.
- Victory Over Ignorance. After teaching them how to survive, the Divine Emperor then taught the people how to better themselves. The first thing he did was to teach them literacy. This Victory ends with the day of One Hundred Sacred Readings, a day where the priests recite the great sutras and tales of the gods from dawn to dusk. For those who don't visit the temples, plays are often performed, although these are frowned upon as impious by the priesthood.
- Victory Over Injustice. With literacy, the Emperor was then able to teach the people laws, that they might deal with each other in a civilised fashion without recourse to violence and wars. The reasons why this is celebrated with Money Day is lost in history, but the charitable overtones are clear. Money Day is normally celebrated by giving token gifts of money to friends and relations. Some larger business give discounts and free gifts.
- Victory Over Pride. With age and wisdom, the Emperor came to realise the benefits of humility, and sought to teach this to the mortal realm. On Kind Deeds Day, the people of the Empire try to remember this by helping at least one other person at expense to themselves.
- Victory Over Desire. Looking back upon his life as his reign neared its end, the Divine Emperor was satisfied with what he had achieved, and what he had gained. He found himself freed from the shackles of desire. This Victory has come to be celebrated with the Poem Festival, which in many places takes the form of a public contest between poets (and now playwrights). An authentic Poem Festival poem should be reflective, a eulogy to the life of the poet or a well-known figure.
- Victory Over Death. The Setting Sun waned and died, but the Divine Emperor had reached spiritual enlightenment in his journey through life, and so he was reborn - the first true dawn. At the end of this Victory comes the Festival of Spirits, a great celebration of the cycle of life. Celebrations range from the quiet veneration of one's ancestors, to the noisy carnival parades full of ghostly costumes and candy skeletons. Paper lanterns and frog salt are used to keep away any unwanted spiritual visitors.
The Great Cycle
Through the reigns of Emperors Delicate Fortitude, Silent Willow, Studious Tranquility, Great Knowledge, Many Blessings and Seeking Perfection, the lunar calendar became completely out of synch with the official calendar. It was Empress Seeking Perfection who fixed this. She decreed that the Victory Over Darkness would begin on the the first day of the first full lunar month to occur within First Month on the official calendar. If the twelfth lunar month, Victory Over Death, should end before the Eighth Month of the Official Calendar, then a leap month would occur. Amongst the priesthood this is considered a month of fasting (no eating within daylight hours, and minimal intake during darkness) but few of the common people fast. The Leap Month ends with the Dawn Feast, where fasting is finally broken with a ritual meal.
This created a repeating cycle where the first day of Victory Over Darkness and the first day of First Month would fall upon the same day every twenty nine years. Each year in this cycle was given a name based upon geomantic principles (See sidebar). These terms are used more by officials and priests than the average citizen, but they have come to take on symbolic meaning. Certain events are considered more likely to occur in certain years of the cycle, and a person's birth year is also believed to influence their life. For example, earthquakes are thought more common in a Younger Brother of Mountains year, but it is thought that a person born in a Second Gaurdian of Seas year will never drown.
Numbering the years
Imperial tradition numbers the years according to the regnal year of the Emperor. The current era is the 64th year of Received Wisdom. 65 years ago was the 45th year of Considered Knowledge. Nations that have split with Imperial tradition tend to use a local dating system, although many under the sphere of Merchants League influence use the Llazan Day of Independence as year zero. Under the Llazan dating system the current year is the 150th Independent Year.
(c) 2008 The Creative Conclave.
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Imperial Culture Part One
Race, social order, language, geomancy, the Nine Arts, births, marriages and deaths.
Imperial Culture Part Two
Law and order, magic, Imperial Couriers, travel.
Imperial Culture Part Three
Arts and entertainment, bathhouses, dragon scales, clothing and costume.
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Years of the Great Cycle
The Great Cycle is the repeating combination of the official and lunar calendars in a twenty nine year pattern. Each year in the cycle is given a geomantic title. These are:
The 64th year of Received Wisdom is a Master of Jade year, considered a time of growth, expansion, prosperity.
- Younger Sister of Rivers
- Elder Sister of Rivers
- Younger Brother of Rivers
- Elder Brother of Rivers
- First Guardian of Rivers
- Second Guardian of Rivers
- Younger Sister of Seas
- Elder Sister of Seas
- Younger Brother of Seas
- Elder Brother of Seas
- First Guardian of Seas
- Second Guardian of Seas
- Younger Sister of Plains
- Elder Sister of Plains
- Younger Brother of Plains
- Elder Brother of Plains
- First Guardian of Plains
- Second Guardian of Plains
- Younger Sister of Mountains
- Elder Sister of Mountains
- Younger Brother of Mountains
- Elder Brother of Mountains
- First Guardian of Mountains
- Second Guardian of Mountains
- Master of Glass
- Master of Bronze
- Master of Ruby
- Master of Jade
- Master of Gold