"The sea hungers..."
- Common Freeport Saying
The Sea Festival is the largest annual city wide celebration held in the city of Freeport. It is a week long festival and occurs in early spring when the weather turns warmer on Magesway 14. During this festival, taverns unveil new blends of house ales, inns and pubs have open air feasts, jugglers and entertainers wander the streets and the market square is open day and night for the duration of the festivities.
The Sea Festival is heavily influenced by the religion of Semorjon. As such, the festival has two highlighted events: The Wedding of the Virgin and the Sea and the Offering.
On the morning of the third day of the Festival, the Harbor Master escorts a young virgin down to the shore and, in an elaborate ceremony, she is married to the Sea. This is a symbolic gesture which is said to bring good fortune to the city... fair winds, calm seas and good catches for the fishing fleet. This mock wedding ceremony is conducted knee deep in the surf by a priest of Semorjon.
Prior to the Sea Festival, all of the ship owners and captains in the city will commission the fabrication of miniature replicas of their ships. Each captain is responsible for his own ship's replica. These replicas are fashioned from wicker reed obtained from kef brittle, a local variety of shrub. Every ship that is to set sail from Freeport that year must be represented. The name of the ship is put on a tiny scroll which is placed inside the replica. A small candle is placed "on board" the replica as well. On the evening of the sixth day of the Sea Festival, all of the captains gather on the docks with their replicas. The candle in each is lit and all the replicas are cast adrift on the sea en masse. A priest of Semorjon creates a gentle current leading out to the center of the harbor. The replicas float out into the harbor in a long procession. This is the highlight of the festival. It is quite a spectacle to see several thousand candles adrift on the sea. It is a river of light on the dark waves.
Within an hour or two of being released, the wicker replicas catch on fire, burn to the water level and the sea claims the ashes. In this way, the sea claims each ship. This "offering" is done to satiate the sea's hunger for ships. The sea, satisfied at having claimed a ship, will not strike out at that ship again. However, the sea has a poor memory and so the Offering must be made each year. It is considered good luck to participate in this ceremony. It is considered very bad luck to launch a ship without first granting the sea this boon. Most ship launchings are delayed until after this festival. Sailors will often refuse to sail on a ship that has not been "offered to the sea".
This website was last updated October 5, 2021. Copyright 1990-2021 David M. Roomes.