Three Days for the Seafarer

Happy Birthday? I'll ne'er be understandin' th' import ye lanky folk place in th' passin' of er single year. What're ye celebratin' anyways? Survivin'? Gettin' a year closer ter yer long nap in the dirt? We Seafarers celebrate when thar be somethin' ta celebrate. The day we gets our Names an' our Clan... the day we first steps aboard a ship an' go ta sea... an' the day we start puttin' th' learnin' we got t' good use as a full-fledged crewman.
— A Seafarer chiding a Human merchant passenger celebrating a birthday at sea

Dwarves are long-lived folk, and so do not place as much importance on the passing of a single cycle of the seasons as do the shorter lived Folk like the Humans and Goblins. What is the meaning of one year when a Dwarf is fortunate enough to live a full life will see more than three hundred fifty more?

But there are three birthdays that the Seafarers do mark with special ceremony, for these are the days that turn a child into a Seafarer Dwarf. These days are Naming Day, Sailing Day, and Arrival Day.

Naming Day

Naming Day is a tradition celebrated by all Dwarves - not just the Seafarers. This is the day that an infant truly becomes a Dwarf. It is the day that her name is proclaimed to the Clan; the day that name is added to the genealogy of the Clan. Naming Day is a tradition that dates back to the days of the first Dwarves born to the Awakened Ones, and its ritual has been passed down unchanged. All heritages of Dwarves, from those beneath the mountains to those that ply the seas, mark this occasion in the same way.

Clan Dagger

One year to the day after the birth of a Dwarf, the parents, immediate family members, and any other members of the Clan into which the Dwarf was born gather together to officially recognize their newest member. Father, mother, and child sit in the center of a circle formed by the rest of the Clan member attendees.

The uniquely crafted Clan Dagger is held before the child while the parents recite the full lineage that traces from the first Awakened Dwarves down to the child. The last name in the recited litany is that of the new child, and by tradition, it is the first time the Clan hears the name chosen for the child.

It should be noted that Dwarves are not strictly patrilineal or matrilineal; the proclaimed heritage is traced to include the most prestigious ancestors that can be claimed. (There have been many a marital argument among Dwarves regarding whose line is more worthy of passing along, but these disputes always seem to be worked out amicably.)


Sailing Day

Unlike Naming Day, Sailing Day is a milestone unique to the Dwarves of the Seafarer heritage. For this the day - as close to a young Dwarf's tenth birthday as is feasible - when the child leaves behind the land-based home of whichever relatives raised him and he begins his life at sea. Sailing Day marks the end of childhood and the beginning of an apprenticeship during which the young Dwarf will learn all the skills of the Seafarer.

A Seafarer's Carrack

The ceremony for this event is a simple one. On Sailing Day the young Dwarf is accompanied by guardians and close family members on the walk to the dock where her future ship - most likely mastered by a relative if not a Clan member - is berthed. The child, in ritual fashion, calls out to the ship Master requesting working passage to "where'er the winds may take me". After the Master grants permission, the youth boards without looking back to the guardians who raised her. The good-byes would have been said before leaving the home.

Once aboard, the youth is given one of the poorest berths in the ship, likely alongside other youths. There is little privacy. For the next ten years, the Dwarf will serve the crew however they require, and at the same time will - first by watching and later by doing - learn the skills of an able Seafarer.

Arrival Day

Arrival Day is the last of the three important "birthdays", and is also uniquely a Seafarer tradition. While it is not necessary to tie this day to a particular anniversary of the Dwarf's birth, most Seafarers attempt to have it coincide with their twentieth birthday - ten years after their Sailing Day.

Arrival Day is the day when a young Dwarf completes the solo sailing trek undertaken to prove a mastery of the sea. The journey would have begun at least two weeks earlier with little fanfare other than a few well-wishes from the crew of the ship on which the Dwarf has been serving. This journey is expected to involve a difficult course from whatever starting point is convenient to the home port of the Dwarf's family and crew.

Typical Arrival Day Boat

If the Dwarf completes the journey successfully, a celebration marking that sailor's transition from apprentice to full crewmember takes place. This celebration typically involves a lot of feasting, drinking and singing. Afterward, the Dwarf takes a place as an adult and full crew member.

There is no "not completing the journey" - a Dwarf either completes the voyage or dies trying. This Arrival Day voyage is the only instance where a Seafarer Dwarf or crew will not give aid to a fellow Seafarer... a young voyager in distress will be abandoned to his own resources.
There be only one more celebratin' day fer a Seafarer, but I didn't count it cuz it means nothin' fer the honoree. The fourth day... the last day that matters ter the Seafarer is th' day he's put inter the tomb with the ancestors.
— A Seafarer completing his discussion with the Human merchant passenger

  Cover Image by jplenio from Pixabay
Clan Dagger Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay
Seafarer's Carrack Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay
Arrival Ship Image by Milada Vigerova from Pixabay


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Jul 12, 2020 21:23

That was a neat take into important days versus birthdays :)   I believe there is one little typo: it says "Signing Day" instead of "sailing day" within the section of arrival day.

Jul 13, 2020 13:02 by Bob O'Brien

Ah yes... that was pointed out by Kahuna, too. Fixing it now.

Check out my latest efforts:
Laurels & Loot is a new, lightweight TTRPG rules system that hearkens back to the early days.
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