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Midwinter In Doriath

as was the story told in Imladris one peaceful Midwinter's night...

 

   "A long time ago by Men reckoning, and that of the Eldar, snow fell softly through the darkness of a night in the forest of Doriath. Winter's hold on the forest was deep, and it fingers were relentless, allowing for no passage in or out of the settlement there.  And within the walls of his home, Earendil, a leader of people for that brief time, lay with his mate and children near him, watching the cold snow drift beyond the forests away into the night. It was then that a loud call came of an approaching rider who had dared the storm.   Earendil quickly called the guards to stay their hand, then set forth into the snow with only light cloak to discover as to why he was needed. He called to the rider, as the snow fell ever harder, and the rider dismounted, coming to embrace him tightly.

   The messenger was Erendis, a dark-haired friend from the North near Sirion, where the Noldor still dwelt. Earendil swiftly bore him to his home, out from the storm, and offered him food and drink, for the rider's road had been long.

   "I bring tidings from the north," spoke the messenger, and then spoke long of news of distant lands, words the children did not understand. As the hours passed, he was indeed warmed by the fire and comfortable, for his belly was now full of the fare of the wood.

   When the coals in the fire began to dwindle at long last through the night into embers, they spoke of memories, and tales passed down to them by their ancestors. It had been a long winter, and much they knew was still to come. Winters were harsh in Doriath, and soon even the joy in the hearts of those who dwelt there would be diminished.  Now, there was at this time a holiday celebrated during the midst of the snow-season in all but the woodland realms. Earendil then suggested in the company of his lady and Erendis that they would bring all the folk together the next eve. But it was not to be told to the children, for this was to be a surprise.

   It came the next day, there was much more snow and a sky thick and storming often during that day, that Earendil arrived at the forge.  He made a request to the craftsman, and a strange request it was for the smith for he had not heard of such a thing having ever been created before, being accustomed to the craft of weaponry and tools - never had such a request been made. In trade for this piece, Earendil agreed to trade the use of his horses to help carry other crafts from Doriath to the settlements beyond once the storm had cleared.  And of this gift, he helped in the crafting of it, and when, hours later, it was complete, he looked upon it with great pride. Earendil then returned home to the company of his family, his wife having done something similar in secret while the children lay sleeping in the mid morning. and it came, rumored among children as such secrets were kept by all parents in the settlement, that a new excitement tingled and rang through the forest air.

   And it was so that, come the next eve, again the snow fell, but a large fire had been struck in the center clearing of the settlement, and by there all gathered to hear songs of snow and songs of stars. The women gave up their secrets, food specially prepared, though perhaps not of any more fare than ever, but roasted with honey and sweet breads made with spices. Meager as the amount of their fare was, it delighted the children, as gifts of this sort were passed between the families.

   The hearts of the people has long been tiring of the bitter winters in Doriath, but as such gifts were passed among them, hearts were lightened. It had been long since they had had lightness of heart. yet tonight, sparked by the embers of the fire, music was struck up for the first time in the wood for mid-winter's festival and songs were given, led by the children of Earendil once their gifts were unveiled to them and the gifts of all parents to their children - for it was established each child would receive one gift at that time.  The gifts were wrapped in blankets, and as the gifts were unveiled, the eyes of the children were bright.  Never before had they beheld such shining treasures for them. To one was given the image of a horse in copper, and to the other a net of stars also made of copper to represent the child's favorite stars.

   The children cherished these gifts always, as did the other children who received gifts crafted by their parents. The families then sang songs of blessing in the snow around the campfire, and though it be a simple beginning, from that time on, it has always been in the wood and elsewhere, that spice breads be made and gifts given to children on the eve of Mid-winter's day, and that fare should be shared between all the households, and songs sung of snow and stars.

   And the next year, it was declared to all in Doriath and in the West and North that the feast should last not one, buy six days, one week, and on each day until Mid-winter's Day, a gift would be given to the children or hidden to be found by them somewhere in the house. But best of all, the heart of the festival remained, bright and true, and always there to celebrate every year..."

 

"Aduial mae"

**This passage features Earendil and Elwing in Doriath, though he was the lord of Sirion.  It is a commonly loved tale told to children.**