by Max Barry

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Federation Day – The National Day of Verdant Haven

Federation Day – The National Day of Verdant Haven

The national day of Verdant Haven, known as Federation Day, occurs in early Fall, on a date equivalent to the real world’s October 1st. It commemorates the anniversary of the day (now somewhat over 40 years ago) when the twelve bailiwicks, triumphant in their mutual civil war against their violently insane former monarch, unified as a single federation under democratic principles. The unified government enshrined several important principles in law, which all the bailiwicks hold in common – the welfare and happiness of the populace, the exaltation of science and secular education, respect for the environment and natural world, and the devolution of power in local affairs to the bailiwicks and shires. Each of these “four legs of freedom” was chosen to lie in direct contrast with the previous government, and elements of Federation Day celebrations traditionally pay homage to each of these important tenets of government. Observation of Federation Day is actually split in to two days – the day prior as a service day, and the day of as a day for celebration.

Honors and Awards

The day before Federation Day, formally “National Day of Service” but informally called “Service Day,” starts with award ceremonies. No chivalric orders or titles of nobility exist in Verdant Haven, but civic awards and medals exist at both the bailiwick and national levels for services to social welfare, science, education, and the environment. Award-breakfasts tend to precede the ceremonies, and are followed by presentations for both specific and lifetime services. After the ceremonies, awardees return to the field to join the rest of the nation in a day of service.

National Day of Service

Service Day is a day-off given nation-wide to perform community service in one’s hometown or surrounding area. Most municipalities and shires arrange large community environmental activities, such as tree-planting, path clearing, removal of invasive plants, upkeep of communal parks and gardens, and composting. Schools and community groups also use the day to encourage and recruit volunteers for year-round service activities, such as visiting with the elderly, counseling at youth camps, and assisting those with special needs.

This is also the day used by most municipalities and local governments to announce new public service initiatives, programs for the betterment of their communities, and priorities for the coming year. Reeves, Bailiffs, Deputies, and other local officials typically then join their constituents in the field taking the first steps towards realizing their new programs.

Parades and Carnivals

On Federation Day itself, most communities will have some sort of local street-fair or carnival, showing off local industries, providing music and diversions for their citizens. Cities of any size will traditionally have parades, with the capitals of each bailiwick hosting a major parade featuring floats and marchers honoring each of the twelve bailiwicks (their own being the fanciest, of course!). All the usual parade staples will be seen, from fire engines to marching bands. The bailiwick floats are usually put together by locals who hail from those other bailiwicks, but for the parade in the national capital of Haventia, each bailiwick puts together an official float and presentation group, and sends it to represent them in the Grand Cavalcade of the Federation – an immense spectacle of music, light, costumes, and performance.

Carnival food is abundant at all levels, with the classic dish being “chicks and joes” - a platter of grilled chicken skewers served with a sweet & spicy sauce, accompanied by seasoned potato wedges slathered in melted cheese and garlic. Other favorites include fresh raspberry scones, “snow peaks” (funnel cake buried in a mountain of powdered sugar), and slabs of fried cheese on a stick. Regional variation exists in many of the dishes, and local specialties can also be readily found as one travels to the various bailiwicks.

Light Shows

Advancements in technology have allowed laser and light shows to begin replacing the impressive, but polluting, traditional fireworks shows that wrap up the end of Federation Day celebrations. In a small town, such a show might consist of some fancy lights from the roof of the local business, set to music, while in major cities the entire horizon might be lit up from end to end in a mind-blowing panoply of changing patterns and illuminations. While much of Verdant Haven is typically a dark-skies communities, on this night a seemingly endless sea of light glows from east to west, rippling gently and emerging from the canopies of the trees that now grow tall even in the midst of the densest cities.