February 6th – The Last Luncheon

Today families throughout the City will sit down and eat an enormous lunch together, typically hosted by the most senior members of the family. The main course of the feast depends upon the family in question, but pickled goods such as sauerkraut, herring and cucumbers are a popular side dish. There is also a central platter piled high with small pastries, both sweet and savoury, known as peregs.

Traditionally, the feast is held in honour of any members of the family who are between the ages of 18 and 22, and would have served as their ‘last luncheon’ before they were called up for military service, a barbaric practice which has now thankfully been cast off. As such, modern ‘last luncheons’ are held in honour of those who suffered or died in the service of Buentoille’s army. Young people are still honoured throughout the meal, but more in respect for tradition than anything else.

The Buentoilliçan army was notoriously harsh, and served extremely bad food. The luncheon was seen as a last opportunity for the family to feed up their young ones and prepare them for their coming ordeal, as well as the last chance for the family to spend some quality time with them. In the evening, at 6:00 they would have to be present at the King’s Barracks, and the families intended that they would reach them with a full stomach and heart, in the best spirits, and perhaps slightly drunk.

The tone of the meal was very much dependent on the individual family’s feelings on conscription. In families who supported it, or saw the practice as a necessary evil, the meal was often a raucous affair, with old tales of military service rolled out to encourage or scare the young daughters and sons. Bands of drunken young people would attempt to march together to the Barracks, shouting out militaristic slogans and songs. Yet there were many other families who were starkly opposed to conscription, and militarism in general. Revolutionary socialist and anarchist families were perhaps the most vocally opposed, alongside those who were dedicated to pacifism; altogether these groups have made up between 15 and 45 percent of Buentoillitant families, depending on the time period. For them the event was far more fraught; a preparation either for their children to be sent to prison as conscientious objectors, to send them into hiding, or to barricade their homes fight a battle with the conscriptors over their freedom.

In The Battle of the Warrens, on this day in 1756, fifty six families stood together in the streets, awaiting the conscriptors behind makeshift barricades with hammers, wooden boards and bricks. Forty five people were injured in the melee, and three died, two of whom were conscriptors, one of whom was the grandmother of a potential conscript. Eventually the military police were called, and many of the resistors were imprisoned. Other families took more subtle approaches, preparing their children for life in the army, but with the intention of them spreading dissent and revolutionary literature there, and learning skills that could be used against their oppressors. In one instance, a young anarchist was placed in charge a wing of the military prison, where she promptly freed all its inhabitants, leading them to safety at an underground refuge.

Towards the end of the feast, young members of the family are encouraged to hide as many peregs about their person as they can, and as such often wear loose-fitting, many-pocketed smocks. These tasty treats, filled with vegetables or meat, are highly spiced and as such last a long time without refrigeration. They would have been begrudgingly tolerated by most sergeants because of tradition, and would sustain the conscripts for a few days, allowing them to avoid the horrible army rations. Yet they also served as a reminder of home; the peregs were often stamped with small messages of love and encouragement from the family.

Other festivals happening today:

  • The Leftist League’s Anti-Militaristic Feast

  • The Coffee Brewer’s Lament