October 6th – The Day of the Healthy Tree’s Haircut

Buentoille’s Municipal Health Service is the best in the known world, and has been for some time. It is a point of indefatigable price to Buentoillitants, which treats and prevents disease and injury in millions of people each year, whether they are from the City, or so-called ‘health tourists’ from the nearby cities like Litancha where healthcare is privatised and barbarically only offered to those with the means to pay at the point of use. The charges incurred by these individuals are invoiced straight to the Litanchan oligarchic government, in anonymised format because, as a result of these charges, the oligarchy has made it illegal for the Litanchan people to travel to Buentoille for healthcare reasons. This is not to say that Litancha has ever paid any of the charges, merely that it embarrasses them; they are currently in a vast amount of debt to Buentoille that they refuse to recognise.

All of this is to say that Buentoillitants prize healthcare above many other things in life, and that they regard it as a fundamental right which is extended to everyone. With this in mind, it is perhaps strange to the City’s visitors that superstition-oriented health rituals like the Healthy Tree still exist and continue to prosper in these medically advanced times. There have been many scientific studies on the Healthy Tree, and repeatedly there has been found no significant correlation or connection between the rituals that occur around it and the health of those who perform the rituals.

The Tree is a short, stout oak which seems to have grown out from between two large boulders, around which its ancient roots are wrapped, forcing them apart like Eurphim with the Doors of Heaven. It resides in a somewhat forgotten corner of the City, a copse in Iglow’s Garden district called ‘the forest’ because it is thought to be the remnant of some primordial woodland which once covered the entire Buentoille Bay area, but which is now reduced to a long strip, perhaps ten trees across at its widest, that divides a rail line and road for about two miles. The knobbly oak is found towards the centre of this space and can be found by following the fairly obvious dirt track that leads through the other trees towards it.

This oak, the ‘Healthy Tree’ was perhaps identified as such because of its Eurphimic efforts, its stoutness and seemingly hardy constitution in the face of the obvious adversity of growing between two large granite boulders. The ritual which surrounds it is fairly simple, and can be immediately guessed at by one glance at the tree; all through the year, Buentoilliants (both of the local and more distant varieties) will, whenever they feel under the weather, drape a lock of their hair around the tree’s branches, or add it to the matted mass that covers the trunk. This will supposedly confer some of the tree’s strength onto the hair’s owner. Quite why hair is associated with this particular tree, rather than handwritten notes, fabric or coins as with other trees, is unknown; perhaps whoever started the ritual had an issue with hair loss or excess growth?

Whatever the origin of the ritual, it has one major issue; it’s making the tree less healthy. Over the years the accumulated weight of the hair has dragged down the branches, which appears to be causing the tree significant distress. There are still rings in the thicker branches where the tree’s growth was inhibited by a knot of hair, so no knots are allowed, but nonetheless, left alone the weight of all the hair, especially when it rains, causes damage and stops new growth appearing. The solution is simple; one a year, today in fact, the district’s Public Works Maintenance Team will give the Healthy Tree a haircut, ensuring it remains healthy for another year.

Other festivals happening today:

  • The Festival of Trite Observances
  • The List of Elder Branch Festival
  • The Trepanned Scholar’s Busy Day