The Sommlending festival of Kaltmarn occurs on 15th Othala (December). It is a mid-winter’s feast day and it celebrates the shortest day and the longest night of the year. It is the last celebratory feast that takes place before deep winter begins. It is also a time when most cattle are slaughtered so that they do not have to be fed during the hard winter months, therefore there is a plentiful supply of fresh meat available.
Traditionally, it is a time for families to get together and enjoy the ‘Kaltveror’, a large festive meal consisting mainly of roasted beef (or wild boar or venison) and various boiled and roasted root vegetables. A buttery tuber mash, called Knölmosa, which is copiously laced with Laumspur and Alether berries, is specially prepared for the Kaltveror and is only served with this festive dish; it is served at no other time. The invigorating herbs fortify and strengthen one’s physical constitution at a time of the year when most physical activities are limited, and there is a need to eat well in order to nourish one’s body. This dietary observance originates from the habit shown by Sommlending animals, particularly bears, that follow the law of nature and hibernate throughout winter months to rejuvenate and to preserve life. The Sommlending believe that in order to best resist the cold, it is necessary to eat more fatty and meaty foods during Kaltangor (winter) when one’s body can better absorb rich and nutritional foods at this time due to a slower metabolic rate. Fortified beers, wines and mead that have been made during the year are finally fermented to be ready in time for drinking on Kaltmarn.
After the Kaltveror is over, there follows the giving of gifts and recitals of Old Sommlending poems by the children and young adults of the family. These recitals culminate with a family rendition of the Sommersang, the national anthem of Sommerlund, and a few minutes of silent prayer to the Gods Kai and Ishir to watch over the family and keep it safe from the depredations of winter.
Since MS 3800, it has become traditional for the Royal Houses of Sommerlund and Durenor to exchange formal gifts on Kaltmarn. These exchanges take place in the capitals (Holmgard and Hammerdal) where the ambassadors of each realm, at their respective embassies, serve a lavish Kaltveror feast for the King and Royal Family of the host nation.
To help you celebrate your own Kaltmarn on December 15th, here are some festive ‘Saol Kaltmarn’ (‘Happy Kaltmarn’) jpegs that you can send to friends and family next Tuesday (12/15).
For Sommerlund and the Kai!