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Author Topic: Dwarven Celebrations and Ceremonies  (Read 3023 times)
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Bard Judith
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« on: 21 December 2004, 15:21:00 »

This is a subentry for the Dwarven Overview - it is a collation of various holidays, a revision of previously written texts, and some new information as well in Awards and Honours.  We are delving ever deeper into the social life and customs of the Thergerim, and it is my hope that you will find them as fascinating as I do...




Barden / Hutden - Weekly, on the second day and fifth day of the week respectively:  These service-centered days help to foster community equity and encourage healthy gender relationships, not to mention promoting romance… For further details, see the Kurakim Clan entry.  

UnphvilDen (Day of the Basalt-Lord)  - Monthly, first day of new moon: Fires are extinguished and the ashes strewn on the underground farming ‘fields’.  For further details, see the Thrumgolz Clan entry.

Mortil Z’golz  (The Night of the Hand) - Yearly - the seventh day of Gnasthom (the fifth month): A day of remembrance – a solemn memorial to all Thergerim fallen in battle.  See the Mitharim Clan entry.

Brokden (Brok Strongarm’s Day)        - Yearly among the Mitharim: Celebrates the great dwarven explorer

Oltgyr Vradvo (Hundred Year Pilgrimage) - Centennially - takes place in a year ending with 9 (such as 1509, 1619) in the fourth month, Anurilos:  Mitharim dwarves make a pilgrimage to Denil’lou to pay homage to the statue of Brok Strongarm.  

DenimettDeniden - Holy Writing Week - Every five years, or at the discretion of the Denirim:  Dwarves who wish to refresh their copies of the RockTales, or adolescents going through the Time, may rewrite their scriptures under strict supervision.  See the Kurakim Clan entry.

Denimett Avefer (Holy Writing-time) - Individual religious observance, taking about a week to perform:        Dwarves who want to refresh themselves spiritually seclude themselves to recopy the Trumesdrummerons.

CorunvilDen - Day of the Granite-Lord - Monthly among the Kurakim, night of the full moon: Tools are downed and everyone plays group games and spends time communally.  See the Kurakim Clan entry.

KwontvilDen - Day of the Obsidian-Lord - Monthly among the Kurakim, cusp of the dark moon: An evening of entertainment and music, and a chance to tell stories, riddles, and jokes.  See the Kurakim Clan entry.


Feasts are popular with the Thergerim, as any excuse for a good meal and the best ale, so they are scheduled almost monthly.  Pretexts for a feast are of course the usual events such as a wedding, a birth, or a council meeting, but a finished piece of weaponry, a new orevein opened, a bat trained, a tunnel completed, or a child’s first word of ThergerimTaal may also qualify.  Of course it may be extra work for the cooks, but as they never have to do the dishes on feast days, there is rarely any complaint.

Among the Plains Dwarves of Nybelmar feasts are almost always ‘goat-roasts’; the animal is spitted and roasted over low coals for nearly a full day until it is ready to fall off the spit, then served with many tiny bowls of exotic sauces, pureed vegetables, and a sort of peculiar gravy made from the goat dripping mixed with its well-cooked numbles and brains.   The Kurakim of Northern Sarvonia favour red deer or elk for their feast-meat, and the strong dwarven spirit known as “Scutch” goes round the tables liberally, while the Thrumgolz enjoy barbecued horse (with sulcho mushrooms and medlarapples), when they can get it.  

READ MORE:  For a description of a typical Thergerim wedding feast and a few of the dishes served, see here.  

Humour: Jokes, Riddles, Puns, and Tonguetwisters

Dwarven jokes and riddles may not translate well, as humour is culturally-based.  Humans seem to find these somewhat incomprehensible as entertainment, preferring the justifiably-more famous, and more accessible hobbit jests and riddle-games.

Questioner:  “Comes from rocks, slays its mother, births a brother, always talks…”
Answerer:  “My forgehammer!”

Questioner:  “Round as a hen-fruit, big as an ale-tun, what can hold hen-fruit and ale all in one?”
Answerer: “Grunhavren’s (any prominent dwarf of the clan) belly!”

Questioner:  “It wounds when it’s free, yet if you hold it you can do no harm.  Name it!”
Answerer: “One’s tongue!”

Questioner:  “When is sleep (‘Wraak’) not possible?”
Answerer: “When one sleeps beside (‘BerWraak’) a snorer (‘BaWraak’)!

Thergerim also enjoy tongue-twisters: again, as many humans find any sentence in ThergerimTaal tongue-tanglingly and throat-raspingly difficult, this may seem to be a redundancy.  However, such specific phrases as we have been able to collect are given here for the edification of our Compendium readers nonetheless…

“! Susilyeh SeSol Shaln Sor’nsek Shon !”

means “Be quiet for (the) southern place (of the) dark blue flower!”

“. Theh Tak SekketSthomm
Tol Takinn Katinn Som .”

(translates roughly as “We count very colourful stones below the exterior counting ledge…”)

And of course the simpler but no easier version is “! SthommSom, SthommSom, SthommSom!” (“Stone ledge, stone ledge, stone ledge!” said three times swiftly…)

Oonsek Sohnsuk  -  “Red Ember”   is another tricky short one when said thrice.

Physical humour is also popular, with performers who can imitate odd noises, pretend to fall over at the slightest pretext, or mime common actions convincingly.  We have been privileged to witness a bewilderingly fast ‘crosstalk’ act in which a male dwarf moved his mouth as if speaking while his mate actually sang, talked, jabbered, and giggled from behind him in a high-pitched soprano – every syllable matched with perfection – and then they switched and the bright-eyed female appeared to be rumbling on in a deep bass voice.  Similar performers mime forgework and produce the clink of a jeweler’s hammer, the wheezing of the bellows, and even the crackling of the flames with incredible realism.  
Puppetry, whistling solos, shadow figures, and ‘Sohnsuk Arfuinn’ - ember-blowing - are all arts that the dwarves enjoy on peaceful ‘evenings’ in their caverns.  Since all except the last may be familiar to humans, we provide a brief description from the oral account of a young lad who was able to visit with his merchant father on one of the dwarven holidays…

“It looked so fun, but Father wouldn’t lemme try…Breaghor put a long stalk into the fire and poked the coals up ‘til they were bright red.  Then he put the other end in his mouth and puffed to make ‘em glow even hotter.  He said you hadda try to push the coals around to make a picture, like a drell or a dragon, with the dark ones and bright ones in the right place.  I can’t draw very well, but I saw what he meaned!”

”He made a dragon face with th’ orange-colour embers and then put th’ burnt-up ones in for black eyes, and the brightest ones for the mouth. Then when he puffed on the face, the ones in the mouth blew inta flame and it looked just like the dragon was breathing fire!   Breaghor called it ‘sawn-sook arfoo-in’ and he said it was a game all dwarf boys learn. Father said I might breath in the smoke or burn myself, but I wouldn’t’ve, I know…”

They tell stories, perform short skits and dramas, trade gossip, and sometimes if the Cave-Mage or Denirim are in a good mood, they can be induced to do a little illusion magic for the delight of the cavern.  Morjualerons with too much time on their hands have trained their bats not only in codesinging but also in flying ‘obstacle courses’ – swooping round the cave avoiding stalactites and ducking neatly through silver hoops held in their trainer’s hands.  And of course, there are always the musicians who can be prevailed upon to bring out their instruments and perform along with the singers!   READ MORE about the nose-played Knertmor, the huge Krumhorn, or the dainty Mezusil here, in the Dwarven Music entry.

Awards & Honours

Among the dwarves, ‘honour’ is an almost tangible concept.  One’s word, one’s loyalty to clan and family, one’s ability to tell the truth, is all part of one’s personal dignity, which, while seemingly unquantifiable, is nonetheless a great part of one’s community status.  This status, or level of honour, is known as ‘EchHaed’ (the first syllable a clearing of the throat, the last pronounced as in the Tharian ‘head’)

EchHaed is obtained through faithfulness, honesty, and consistency.  Even an error which trusted human counselors would consider trivial, such as our ‘white lies’ told to make someone feel better, or ‘diplomatic truths’, are not taken lightly among the dwarves and can result in a lowering of EchHaed.  (If we may be permitted a side note from our human perspective here, it is quite remarkable that any dwarven/human trade agreements have been forged at all, given their lack of regard for diplomacy and negotiation!)  

However, EchHaed should never be referred to consciously or spoken of directly, as it is considered poor form to do so.  One does not tell another dwarf that he has damaged his own EchHaed, or that he has gained EchHaed by certain actions.  Rather, by subtle (from a Thergerim perspective, that is) indications, a dwarf may move upward or downward in the community’s estimation.  Certain honours accrue to high-EchHaed holders, such as becoming eligible to be nominated for the Council, or having one’s opinion asked about decisions others are making, or even being referred to by a specific title.  “Chief Foodtaster” or “Great-Dowser” are highly coveted names which only one’s peers may bestow, somewhat in the way that ‘Great Sage’ or ‘Masterbard’ are among us.  

Not all honours are dependent upon EchHaed, however; craftsmanship in art, food preparation, teaching the children of the cavern, or weaponsforging are all rewarded in appropriate ways.  The special days of YehBarden and YehHutden are often opportunities for people to give and be given gifts which reflect this, supposedly anonymously.  Something as simple as a plaited wreath of aboveground flowers, or a new custom-designed beardclip, may signal the community’s esteem for a dwarf, or allowing her to knock open the first alebarrel at a feast.  

Awards are always chosen with care for the recipient rather than being produced in bulk, so such things as our medals or standards have little meaning for a dwarf.  Their closest equivalent would be a ‘setstone’, a small jewel in a filigree housing designed to be set into a warrior’s armor to mark a battle or skirmish victory.  However, a new specialty cleaver for the Butcher-Mistress would give her just as much EchHaed and pleasure as any bright setstone would the Thergerim warleader!


"Give me a land of boughs in leaf /  a land of trees that stand; / where trees are fallen there is grief; /  I love no leafless land."   --A.E. Housman
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