Friday, December 21, 2018

Ware the Winder Man!

Wherein is described another holiday for the Rainy City, one celebrated at the height of the Windy Season (for context, see Seasons and Holidays of the Rainy City).

Mid-Winder Night, when family and friends gather with smoking fires spilling over every hearth.

Why? To feed the Winder Man, of course, so that he does not come into our homes and feed on our breath. 

Every ship in the city flies its banners and flags this day, the peak of the Windy Season and windiest day of the year. Doors, windows, and the tops of chimneys are decorated with torn and frayed cords, ropes, and threads, in hopes of binding the Winder Man and other Winder-Wraiths out. Winder Man Effigies smoke and burn above the doors of pubs before being tossed into the sea. Winder Man dolls are stuffed with scraps of paper naming illnesses, misfortunes, and enemies -- and hung on poles or left on rooftops so that the Winder Man might find and take them away.

It is also a time of charity. The poor are invited in off the streets, fed, and kept hale. Every death and every breath the Winder Man takes this night makes him greater, and it is known that if ever he breathes enough breaths he will blow away the city, casting it over into the sea. We've lost parts of town before on Mid Winder Night, and surely we will again. Even the assassins stay their hands on this night, for last breaths are the gravest gift of all.

The streets are alive with activity, late into the night. Revelers careen from pub to pub, for tonight may be their last. Carolers sing songs of praise to the Winder Man in front of homes and businesses to encourage those inside to pay them handsomely in food, drink, or silver, so that they might move on to another home and stop drawing the Winder Man's attention to the place. The faithful visit shrines and temples to pray that all Winder-Wraiths be averted by their guardian daemons, gods, and spirits.

All who are out on this night wear thick, colorful scarves and kerchiefs over mouth and nose to hide their breaths from the Winder Man. Colorful threads and strings are affixed to coats and hats for added protection. Those who can afford it wear censers, in all shapes and sizes, enveloping them with alchemical smoke.  

The Winder Man and his Wraiths will be held at bay another year, through the festivities and rites of the people of this great city. And if he is not? Then we all go down together this night. So let us celebrate.

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