On any other day in Buentoille, you might pass by someone in Etange grave dress. The odds aren’t particularly high, as there are only about 500 Followers of Etange (or ‘Etangers’ as they are often known) in the City, but still, you might, and the grave dress makes them relatively easy to spot in a bustling street; they wear great circular pleated fans on each of their shoulders, decorated with bright splashes of colour. A third, larger pleated fan straddles between the other two, cresting above the head. Their sleeves are long, loose, and also pleated. The rest of the garment is a short grey dress, not pleated, which reaches down to the same height as the sleeves end: just above the knee. The clothes are the same for all genders, and change only in the colours that are splashed over them. These are the clothes that the Etangers will wear to die.
It is significant that you might see these garments on any other day; the Etangers wear the clothes because they believe (probably fairly sensibly) that they could die at any moment, and they want to look their best for when they meet Etange in the world beyond. Today they cannot die, or so they believe. According to the teachings of their blessed Etange, so long as they do not deliberately put themselves in harm’s way, they will never die on August the 16th, because this is the day that Etange narrowly survived a train crash.
To give them their full name, Giamo Etange (1859 to 1931) was a fashion designer who was unattached to any of the big fashion houses before the Revolution, but was nevertheless lauded for their exceptional taste and skill. Perhaps it was because of this lack of affiliation that they continued their success into post-Revolutionary times, becoming a prominent figure within the Buentoilliçan Fashion Cooperative. It was in 1907 that they were involved in the train crash, an event that had a marked effect on their personality and outlook on life, partly because of brain damage they received in the incident.
At first, there seemed nothing changed about Etange, yet it fairly quickly became clear that they had developed an obsession in their work with fans and pleats. This was, however, only the most obvious part of a new set of aesthetic rules they now felt bound by; a new paradigm of beauty which they had somehow internalised through their injuries. In addition to this new obsessive nature, Etange also realised how fleeting life is, and how it can be taken away by the smallest of things. They had actually almost died during the Revolution, when a stray bullet took a chunk of their arm away, but this new incident seemed more wanton; these were not exceptional circumstances, as in the Revolution, Etange had just been getting their usual train to work, as they did most days.
In the last twenty or so years of their life, Etange began to build up something of a religious group around them, partly as a result of a newfound intensity and belief in the power of their new aesthetic paradigm. Their central belief, that they will go to Etange’s personal heaven when they die, seems to have been influenced by the Chastise Church’s teachings that we as humans are the only thing that makes our afterlife possible, though this similarity was never officially recognised by Etange. The spirits of those Etangers who have an enduring love of the work their leader created in these last twenty years of their life are shaped in some way by this experience of alternate beauty, leading them down what Etange called a ‘different, previously unseen track in the railroad of the afterlife.’
In order to ensure that the universe knows which lever to pull on this ‘railroad’, the Etangers wear their grave dress every day, just in case they are killed randomly, simply by something as innocuous as getting the train to work. Today, then, is the only day that you will see an Etanger out of their grave dress, in ‘normie’ clothes, as they call it. They don’t look particularly comfortable in these clothes, which are usually the same each year, bought many years back. Oddly enough, you can still easily pick them out of a crowd, perhaps it’s something about the way they stand, their backs unused to life without the weight of the large fans attached to them.
Other festivals happening today:
- The Festival of Self Defence Classes
- The Festival of Truculence
- Seemly Gawlem’s Day