Candlenights is a traditional dwarven holiday that begins on the first snowfall after the autumnal equinox or the winter solstice, whichever comes first and ends upon the first budding of spring or the spring solstice, once again, whichever comes first.
The History of Candlenights:
Candlenights came into existence in the dwarven cities and towns of southern Kaldr Fjall, a region of harsh and brutal winters that test the will of the dwarves and other individuals who live there. The region requires all but the most resourceful individuals to rely on their neighbors to survive the winter. It became tradition to light up one’s windows and doors with candles and lanterns to welcome friends and strangers alike into one’s home in order to offer them refuge from the deadly cold. These visitors would frequently bring small tokens and favors to thank the family for their hospitality. These visits frequently built strong relationships between clans and the tradition of candlenights spread across dwarven and eventually human society.
Candlenights retains the tradition of lighting up one’s door and windows with candles and the bringing of gifts although as with many dwarven traditions, it has slowly evolved over time. The simple candlesticks, shelves and hooks that once held the candlesticks and lanterns have largely been replaced with grand displays of silver and mithril candelabras and stained glass lanterns held aloft by the dozen on silver chains. The more elaborate the display, the more hospitable one is assumed to be towards their guests (although a great degree of ‘showing off’ does factor in)
Food and drink are central to the Candlenights festivities. Previously, sheltering a guest from the cold and recovering his fortitude from the bite of winter required a good meal and a strong drink. This has evolved into great feasts on a near weekly basis during candlenights. Clans will stockpile salted hams by the hundreds to ensure their homes may display nothing but the highest degree of hospitality. Furthermore, no dwarven home would be complete without a Festival Keg. The Festival Keg is a large wooden vessel that is filled with the clan’s favored alcohol at the beginning of Candlenights. The Keg is expected to last for the entirety of candlenights, and it’s considered bad luck for your festival keg to run dry, especially if it means you’re unable to serve a guest. Furthermore, it’s considered poor form to refill the keg partway through candlenights, a holdover from the early days of winter rationing, this is further complicated by the fact it’s also poor form to refuse anyone a drink, or not share a drink with them from the festival keg. It should be noted that the festival keg isn’t the only source of drink in a home or hall, as many will drink from separate sources, however, most will at least take one to four drinks a night from the festival keg. Due to these rules, it should be clear that festival kegs are quite large, ranging from that of a large bathtub for a small family to massive kegs found in the great halls of the dwarven mountainhomes the size of a two story house.
Lastly, the tradition of visitors bringing gifts to homes they visit has flourished. In exchange for the host family providing guests with food, drink and sometimes a comfortable place to sleep, the guests will bring tokens of gratitude. The value of these tokens will vary upon how close one dwarf is to another, although craftsmanship is always valued above other qualities, even if the item is inexpensive.
Popular gifts include tools, clothing, books, toys, games and other novelties. Weapons and armor are usually only given to warriors or to those who live in dangerous regions. Giving food and drink is bad form (as those things are to be provided by the host family). Furthermore, clans who share alliances are also expected to grant gifts to one another. These gifts are typically large works to be displayed and shared among members of the allied clans. Statues, massive tapestries, and sets of fine feastware in numbers enough outfit an entire great hall are common gifts. Smaller items such as legendary armor and weaponry, fine jewelry, and other magic items are also given to the clan’s leader.
Clans with a begrudging alliance also give gifts, as per tradition, however, if the grudge runs deep enough, the gift is typically a cumbersome, burdensome yet valuable gift. Herds of rare, finicky, difficult to feed livestock, thousands of semi-precious but uncut gemstones, or the architectural plans from a world renown engineer to a wonder worthy structure that would take decades to finish.
Candlenights in the Human world:
During the Age of Heroes humans and dwarves began to establish strong bonds in trade. Over these trade routes Candlenights spread to the human cities where many now celebrate it. The humans have slight variances on tradition, in place of the festival keg they decorate evergreen trees and hang evergreen trimmings alongside the strings of candles and lanterns. Furthermore, humans typically share Candlenights with close friends and family, and while the spirit of hospitality towards strangers does extend to their own traditions, the ‘open door’ policy found within dwarven homes never took root in the human cities (likely due to the higher crime rates and the ‘less honorable’ traits of humans, as a dwarf may claim).
Father Silverbeard: Silverbeard is a dwarf who hails from the Age of Heroes, a master craftsman in dozens of trades and leader of a small mountainhome in south Virdingheim he embodied the spirit of candlenights when a neighboring mountainhome was overrun by an undead force of Mournavel, led by an arch demon named Krampus, leaving thousands at his door. Not only did Father Silverbeard welcome the refugees, he immediately began a dozen massive projects to ensure that his Candlenights hospitality would not waver in the face of adversity. He designed a new wing of the mountainhome to house the refugees, which the masons and geomancers miraculously finished in a weeks time, he sent out hunting parties by the dozen, who managed to miraculously find game in the midst of winter to feed the refugees. And lastly, after two months of preparation and training he mobilized a military force to assault Krampus on the winter solstice. The dwarves were outnumbered three to one, but they were ultimately victorious. However Father Silverbeard and Krampus were both lost during a fight beneath the mountainhome, deep in the caverns approaching the underdark, never to be seen again.
This began the legend of Father Silverbeard and Krampus. Silverbeard is said to protect good children from the bite of winter during Candlenights, and uses his legendary crafting abilities to make a special gift for each and every good child. While Krampus will beat naughty children and break their belongings, with the meanest children getting drug deep into the underdark.