Postfest V, Part II: Rushbearing & Haystrewing
Date: Tue, August 09, 2005
Topic: Peoples & Culture
The gathering of rushes and hay to provide floor coverings is an ancient tradition. In all but the most primitive areas, it is now largely a symbolic festival. It remains a common celebration, however, that sees a notable cooperation between druids and the clerics of the gods.
Rushbearing & Haystrewing
By: Glenn Vincent Dammerung, aka GVDammerung
Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.
Date: 11 Readying, 25th Goodmonth
Location: Flanaess wide
Rushbearing and Haystrewing are two allied festivals that grew out of a need to cover earthen floored, and more rarely stone floored, buildings, particularly temples. Once commonly practiced, Rushbearing and Haystrewing are now confined in there most practical form to those rural areas where earthen floors are still commonplace. In more advanced, and urban areas, Rushbearing and Haystrewing festivals are largely ceremonial, holdovers from a more primitive time.
Rushbearing occurs in the early spring. The hay that has covered the floor to that point is removed and fresh rushes are brought in to replace the hay. The exact timing of Rushbearing is dependent of the development of the local rushes, earlier to the south and later to the north. Rush carts are paraded through the streets to their various destinations, and remove the unwanted hay. Special cakes and sweets are a feature of Rushbearing, being presented to the rushbearers before being enjoyed by all who help in the process of removing the old hay and laying the rushes.
Haystrewing occurs near the end of summer. The rushes that have covered the floors to that point are removed and fresh hay is brought in to replace the rushes. Unlike Rushbearing, Haystrewing reliably occurs on the 25th of Goodmonth, as hay is normally in abundance. Instead of cakes and sweets, ciders, some hardened to a fine edge, are produced for the haywards and those helping out. The day generally concludes with a bonfire made of the discarded rushes accompanied by much singing and dancing.
In urban areas, where better flooring is to be had, both customs are entirely ceremonial. They are chiefly then carried out by the churches and temples as a sign of continued devotion more than anything else. Occasionally, fresh hay or rushes will actually remain in the church or temple for a brief time as part of certain high holidays. In such cases, rushbearing or haystrewing may occur other than at precisely 11th Readying and 25th Goodmonth.
Note should be made that the preparations for Rushgathering and Haystrewing, being the gathering of rushes and new cut hay, necessarily take place prior to the actual festivals themselves. While the actual laying of the rushes or hay is attended by religious services in a variety of temples or churches, when such are gathered, druids often officiate. The same is true of private dwellings or businesses. The religious ceremonies are of a druidic nature. This is true even in areas not otherwise given over to druidic faith. The clergy of the gods oddly do not oppose these ceremonies outside of their strictest faith. Only those of the Church of Pholtus are a known exception.