People might have noticed that there are a lot of references to things like athletic competitions in the new Sartar material. Foot and chariot races, fighting (with weapons or without), throwing, hurling, or shooting competitions, and so on – all of that would be commonly something that is a part of many seasonal festivals. With eating, drinking, dancing, and music, of course.
These festivals have booze, dancing, music, athletic competitions- lots of youthful romance!
Also, given that all the young people are adults AND the Orlanthi don’t have a lot of sex taboos, I expect there are plenty of hook-ups that happen at these festivals. Especially among the young adults, who have been doing their Brotherhood or Sisterhood years largely separate from each other.
As an aside, some of these festivals likely get pretty wild, and taken very seriously. There is an athletic competition in Two Hour Town, where a biennial competition is held to celebrate Orlanth’s wooing of Ernalda. One of the events is to run from Two Hour Town to Sartar’s Palace (culminating in running up the Thousand Steps) about 20 km away. While wearing a full kit of bronze armor – helmet, cuirass, greaves, and vambraces. In early Earth Season, when the temperature is going to be in the mid-20s.
Another popular event is the pankration, where two (probably nude) young men are in a marked area, and they fight, with only rules being:
1. can’t leave the marked area.
2. No biting.
3. No gouging.
The Orlanthi wrestle, box, race, swim, and jump. They also like competitions that involve sword-fighting, archery, and javelin throwing. Given the importance of martial activities in their society, sport is a big deal and practiced by most everyone. The big agricultural festivals have athletic competitions to please the Earth Goddess, but there are also athletic competitions and mock sparring contests in early summer when the militia is mustered and the tribal assembly is held.
The Sartarites do have game of “common ball” – the teams play it nearly as violently as a battle. Highly teamwork oriented, the game is played between two teams of usually 12 to 14 players each, with one ball. The rules of the game allow using hands. The teams try to throw the ball over the heads of the other team. There is line between the teams and another white line behind each team. Teams charge the ball often until one of the team is forced behind the line at their end.
So these games often resemble a semi-organised brawl. With a ball.
These are all variants of the traditional ball games of Europe and the Near East. They go back a LONG time.
Cheese Rolling? Maybe in Imther. But I understand that in the Lunar Provinces there is a Cave Toad leaping contest.
I’d look as much at things like lacrosse as traditional English sports.
In game, these big seasonal gatherings are good opportunities to impress others with your skills – potential romantic partners, cult and tribal leaders, potential allies, rivals, etc. The young men going through their Adventurous training in the hills, the young women at the Earth Temple – they get to meet and show off. Cult leaders get to see who has potential, etc. Gifts and accolades are given out, wine is drank, and love is found. But they are also good opportunities for rivalries to be created, for tempers to flare, and tensions to build.