Yule Spirits in Dragonlance
by John Grubber
While I don't think Santa is really Krynn appropriate, I see no reason why there wouldn't be some sort of Yule spirit or folklore figure on Krynn. The idea of mid-winter gift-giving occurs in many cultures, and hospitality towards guests is a similar common strain in culture. So, here are my thoughts...
The Kolmeantaa (The Three Givers)
The tradition arose out of stories of a trio of priests traveling the continent in the days before the Cataclysm. Their individual stories and origins are unknown, but each has a role in the group. Stadeconah, a plainsfolk priestess of Mishakal, represents nature's bounty, fertility and fellowship of family. Iqar Ott, a Khurish priest of Reorx, represents craftsmanship and the giving of those things we ourselves treasure to those we care for. The third of the trio is Atana Verchere, a priestess of Shinare of noble Tsarothian birth, who represents industriousness and thanks for the good tidings of the year past, and requests for the year to come.
The trio traveled the continent much like the Traveling Players of Gilean, unaging, spreading messages of hope and cheer for the last two centuries before the Cataclysm. Their coming to a city was a great event, though it happened out of the blue. They would appear out of nowhere a day's travel from a village or city, and when they departed, any who tried to follow them would lose them less than a days travel out of town. In their presence, little in the town went wrong- food was plentiful, the sick recovered and a festive mood settled over the area. They remained in a village for four days typically, known as Juhlakoti (Home-Festival), one night for each priest to host a celebration and give gifts to the populace, and a final night where all three would celebrate with the townsfolk in a grand feast, offering blessings to the town for the year to come. The gifts they gave were to those in need or pure of heart- though they also were known to give gifts to those undeserving. These gifts, while valuable, came with a message. Given in public, they were indicative of that person's greatest flaw- vain man would receive a mirror, or a miser a set of coin scales, while a glutton would be given a splendid platter. More than one life was changed by the Kolmeantaa's gift, for while they are beautiful, they are cursed as well. The miser's scales will always cheat him, the mirror will show the ugliness lurking within, while the platter will sour the taste of any food placed upon it. The curses can be lifted though- when the gifts are shared with others- when the scale is used for counting alms, it will increase the gifts, while the platter will be everful if shared with the poor. Each member gives one of these special gifts when they stop. Some curses are lifted, some are not, for in some cases, the recipient misses the message, and keeps the item for display, passing up the opportunity to change their life for the better, and retaining their sinful ways. Children and maidens are especially hopeful for the coming of the trio, for they bring toys to children who have none, and births within a year to those who seek them. As Yule approaches, many villages even tried to lure the Kolmeantaa to them with candles and lanterns tied in trees on the roads to the village and celebrations of their own. The trio almost never appears, but they are their in the spirit of cooperation that builds with the anticipated arrival. People are rarely disappointed, for even in the preparation the town is drawn closer together, and that in itself is judged a reason to celebrate. To the Kolmeantaa, that is the whole point.
Their presence offered a respite from an at times harsh life, and when they eventually departed, the celebratory mood would remain for a time before life returned to normal. Many have tried to follow them or stowaway in their wagon, but their tracks disappear within a day's travel of the town they stopped at, while those who sneak on board their wagon wake up in their own bed a day on the morning of the second day, with only hazy memories of what they saw. Thus is the mystery and anticipation of a visit from the Kolmeantaa maintained.
In the days after the cataclysm, their visits were nonexistent, for they departed the world to be with their gods. After the war of the Lance though, the tradition was revived by new priests, though without the magical trappings of the earlier trio. More than one group wandered the land using the name Kolmeantaa. Though mere mortals, they travel across free Ansalon, spreading word of the gods return and urging celebration of home and community. They honour the spirit of the ancients' tradition as they cannot replicate its circumstance completely.
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