Much of Escan’s culture revolves around big, loud celebrations. From citywide festivals to celebrate the end of hurricane season, holidays commemorating the day volcanoes erupted to throwing parties and dances simply because the weather was nice or certain fruits are in season, it’s no surprise much of this excessiveness presents itself in their weddings.
A traditional Escana wedding lasts three days. This stems from one of the pinnacles of their old religion before Escan converted to Santivism that held the number in high regard and a symbolic callback to the “Three Rites” that encompassed the rituals one had to pass in order to truly be considered an adult in old times. Depending on social class and means, the three days can end up being a brilliant display of extravagance but for the most part everything is based in cultural tradition. There are, of course, plenty of Escana who do not observe the traditional marriage rites and instead choose to have a quick and simple ceremony but this isn’t about them.
Day One: Family
Respecting and honoring ones parents was/is very important to the Escana. The family home being very significant in both modern and ancient culture and there was never a push for younger generations to step off the path their ancestors treaded on.
On the first day of an Escana wedding, the couple is supposed to wake up at dawn or earlier, say their goodbyes to each other, and exchange families. Ideally, the families have already been introduced to each other but the day starts with the couple attending to their partner’s family’s needs. This can be done by either doing chores, labor, or favors for the family. In the case of many upper class and royal weddings, this is satisfied by the giving of gifts or even land/titles. Upper class and royal weddings also tend to exchange this practice with an “introduction breakfast” where the couple eats with each other’s family. They are often allowed to bring one member of their own family with them, usually a parent or someone they are significantly close to .
After the introduction breakfast or the usual exchange of gifts/favors they move onto having separate parties. The point is to impress each other’s family. This is usually done by dancing (with each member of the family), singing, playing an instrument, or anything that satisfies them (within reason). Weddings held in cities such as Graza tend to invite strangers to cheer along with the newcomer to the family and many people show their good spirits to the couple by throwing money or small gifts their way. This practice has also made its way into royal and upper class weddings although they usually tend to throw flowers or jewelry instead of pocket change.
The party usually goes on until the evening, after such there is a dinner where the couple is allowed to meet again. At the dinner, if the family is not thoroughly impressed with their child’s partner, they can end the wedding then and there. If they are impressed with the partner, they usually present a gift of their own as an official welcoming into the family. The couple is then wrapped in a blanket usually woven by a member of the bride’s (or whoever was proposed to) family and are sent to bed. While the Escana aren’t known for being concerned about the concept of virginity, the display of lust leading up to the wedding ceremony is considered bad luck and so each family chooses three representatives to stand guard around the bed to ensure the couple does not have sex. This role is often filled by siblings, aunts/uncles, or cousins. Parents and grandparents tend to go to another room to count any money/gifts given to them throughout the day and, if they feel up to it, may choose to share or split what’s been gathered.
Day Two: Unity
The six guards wake the couple up on the second day and escort them to either the nearest church, place of worship, or member of the clergy. The blanket is taken off them and their hands are tied together. For those paying homage to true Escana tradition, the blanket will be cut off of them, made into strips, and that is what will tie their hands together. If the couple is choosing the Santivian route the priest will first dip their hands in hands in holy oil, draw a half circle on both of their foreheads, and use any cloth available (although the practice of using ash to draw half circles is not usually seen in other Santivian weddings this practice came about after Escan converted). In the Santivian version, the priest will also ask for a blessing from each of the Saints (besides the ones who preside over the dead, they will be specifically asked to leave the couple alone or to keep their souls bound both in this life and in the next). In non-traditional/shorter weddings, this is often the only marriage rites the couple reserves.
The cloth is symbolic and very important. For the rest of the day, if at any time the knot comes undone it is considered a sign of bad luck or that the marriage is doomed to fail. Once again, if this happens the couple may choose to back out of the wedding at that point.
This day is obviously about the couple becoming “one” and in many cases tend to be the most religious of the day as plenty of couples may choose to spend it in prayer and asking the Saints for their approval. As this day also is spent in preparation for the union of their souls, they may choose to give their prayers to dead loved ones/deceased couples of their family as in acknowledgment that they are still together in the afterlife.
For most royal weddings, the second day is also the day most/non-familial guests arrive and this is when the couple chooses to greet them, often holding court to talk to each guest one by one. As with the day before, there are more parties but in consideration that most will be either hungover or groggy from the day before this is satisfied by either settling for tea or lunch.
The couple also choose this day to present each other with gifts of their own making. This is supposed to symbolize their dedication to the relationship. It is very important that the gift was created with their own hands and anything else is also considered bad luck or a sign of a sham wedding.
At sundown, if the cloth remains intact the priest returns to cut it off of them and anyone eager to get married next takes a strip for good luck. The couple once again separates and spends the night surrounded by candles in prayer both for their ancestors and the Saints whose job it is to watch over the dead asking both for the guidance from those who came before them and to beg for there not to be a tragedy. They are watched over by three of the guards who watched them the night before and while this is more superstition than tradition, the partner who is seen to fall asleep first is said to be the one who will also die first.
Day Three: Romance & Ceremony
The Escana are said to be licentious but truly they are a people who love love. On the third and final day the wedding turns not just into a celebration of a couple but of romance itself. Although, not all weddings in Escana history have ever been considered romantic and much of the ones that follow these rites can even be purely political, the hope of romance remains strong as it is also an Escana belief that romance in a marriage makes for a healthy family and further ensures the possibility of children in those sort of unions.
In cities such as Graza, this is also the day flowers are thrown in the streets if they’re in season. For upper class and royal weddings, the bells of the Pilla de Calenos ring and people might feel especially generous. The couple and their party might give out favors either in the form of fruits, baked goods, small trinkets, or coins. Often in Graza, in celebration for royal weddings or any significant person there might also be free plays and food will be passed out. In this case, the couple will often also hire entertainers to dance and sing in the streets.
In the morning, the couple spends hours having their skin meticulously painted by members of their family. In Escan’s old religion, the markings are supposed to tell a story of the person’s own life. Under Santivism, there are new markings that signify the Saints and their blessings.
Once painted, those looking for romance themselves will often either pay or give favors in order to dance with the couple in hopes some of their “love” will rub off on them and they will have better luck finding a partner of their own. Children will be chosen to run around to pin flowers on anyone who is single and of marriageable age so that they can find each other. Public displays of affection are encouraged and the couple might even be awarded for it.
There is, of course, also an another ceremony after the dancing where the couple is once again escorted to the church to get their second set of marriage rites. This can either be a giving of vows or silent prayer. Much of the principles of unity bleed into this day as well as giving respect to each other’s family. Rings aren’t necessary but if the couple chooses, this is the day where they are finally given and they are officially considered married.
The partying and dancing resumes after this and the couple also tends to invite their guests to a final dinner. In coastal areas in Escan, once the night starts to wind down water is dumped on the newly married couple to wash off any remaining paint before they go to bed.
Some small things that are considered tradition but are not required for all three-day weddings:
- Leaving a baby in the couple’s bed
- you will often see this practice in upper class and royal weddings where much of the point of the political union is to produce children. The baby is supposed to bless the bedsheets with the promise of fertility. Having a baby be chosen for this is often considered very honorable and many landed people will happily offer up their child for the opportunity. The younger, the better. Obviously, once the baby is found in the bed it will be quickly removed.
- The couple sneaks off before the end of the party on day three
- If the couple successfully gets away without anyone noticing this is considered another sign of good luck for their marriage. If they do not they usually owe a gift to whoever catches them.
- Stripping the bride/groom
- Also a tradition of political unions. In some cases (again where the union was done specifically for the production of an heir) the couple will be carried to bed by a selection of important nobles and stripped in preparation for their duties. This practice would sometimes often include some staying behind to ensure the couple actually got down to it. This started to fall out of favor during King Frederick’s reign and King Cidro absolutely forbade it from happening during his wedding to respect both his and his wife’s privacy.
- Specifically kissing a member of the newly married couple. In the same vein that people want to dance with them in hopes some of the good luck with romance comes their way, someone might ask to kiss them and offer money/gifts to the couple if they say yes. For obvious reasons, this has also declined in popularity. Although in some regions in Escan it would be considered rude to say no.
- Thanking the Guards
- In old Escana tradition, the guards from days one and two whose job it was to “fight” the temptation of lust were then rewarded with lust on the final day. Some saw it as a great honor or challenge to sleep with one of them.
On day two of a traditional Escana weddings, happy couples will usually hear this “May St. Yves guide your hearts, St. Orlin protect you, St. Milit bring you joy, St. Korden help you prosper, St. Remus keep you honest, St. Maior keep you fed, St. Hurro keep you warm, and St. Uyelius give you strength. We beg St. Clarial, St. Vanni, St. Rolias, and St. Nencio to leave your souls be and to keep them bound in this life and in the next.”
In Santivian lore, St. Clarial, St. Vanni, St. Rolias, and St. Nencio were given the duty of watching over the dead and guiding souls to the afterlife. In Escana culture, death itself is something both to fear and celebrate. The Escana have a lot of ritual and holidays surrounding their dead. In some regions deceased persons are often dug back up after some years, their burial site cleaned, they are wrapped or sometimes put in fresh clothes, and then given another send off in the form of dancing and the giving of food before being put back into the ground. However the Escana also believe that your soul can be stolen and taken before its time and often after someone dies they will ensure the body won’t be moved, everyone stays away from the light, and other dead offerings are left out (usually small animals) so that the Saints don’t take anyone other than who they need to.
However, Escana funerals are not somber. Once they are sure that the Saints have removed the soul from the body and the deceased is already on their journey to the afterlife, color and joy become the main points of the celebration. While the Escana mourning color is dark green (a symbol of stagnant or dirty water) on the day of the actual funeral that color is usually forbidden as it tempts the memory of death on a day that is supposed to be about life.
This is another ceremony in which people choose to paint their skin but instead of markings and symbols, most will cover themselves in either colorful powders or Santivian ash and holy oil. They will spend the day eating the deceased’s favorite food, the ceremony will be a celebration of the deceased’s accomplishments and values, and the deceased will be buried in a way that best signifies who they were in life. The Escana Kings, for example, are often buried in a copy of the ceremonial crown and covered in coins and jewelry as a way to ensure they’ll be wealthy and taken care of in the afterlife (and so the Saints know who they were). Members of clergy might be buried with scripture sewn to their hands, valued members of a community with gifts, etc.
Now, mourning culture in Escana can be very different than the actual funeral as it often becomes a competition of how close someone was to the deceased. Dark green again makes an appearance and how long one chooses to mourn is usually symbolized by how long that remains a staple in their wardrobe. For members of the royal family, the required mourning period is six months for the king and three months for everyone else. After the first few weeks, most people who don’t have a personal relationship to the deceased can move onto wearing a pin or something small in the mourning color, wearing nothing at all (in the case of royals) can result in a fine or jail time. A spouse is often required to mourn for longer than the set time but there are usually exceptions.
For example, King Frederick very rarely adhered to the set three months mourning period after the death of his wives and this was excused because the mourning period forbids someone from getting married and most wanted their king to have a queen. Mourning periods often sometimes forbid working, celebrations of any kind for families, and even the birth of children and this too can be excused without fines.