A lot of work goes into today’s festival, by a lot of children. Don’t worry, this isn’t child labour in any meaningful sense; no adult coerces them into preparing The Glorious Pile, in Tripe Eater’s Square at the end of Moorfolk Boulevard, and all participation is strictly voluntary. The Children’s Union looks after their members well. In any case, today is a big day in the calendars of Buentoillitant children.
There are several ways of anticipating the Festival of the Glorious Pile: firstly, there is the end of summer, the bite that is drawn into the air and the increase in wind speeds. It always comes after the Anguished Howl, which normally knocks a few more leaves from the trees. When you start eating pumpkins and squash and root vegetables; that’s when the Glorious Pile must be formed. Children from all over start turning up to their Union’s headquarters with baskets and arms full of leaves. They are then deposited in a special room, where they are dried out prior to their deployment today.
It’s after school today that the room is emptied by hundreds of children, each with their own sacks and barrows, leaving little trails of leaves that their littler siblings gather up dutifully behind them. The procession lasts only a little time, as the Square is only a few streets over from the Union headquarters, but it is quite a sight to behold, and the City authorities ensure that, for safety reasons, the streets in-between are closed to automobile traffic. The older children bookend the procession, carrying not leaves but parts of the ladder and diving board that they then carefully construct in the Square.
The reason they chose Tripe Eater’s Square over 200 years ago when the festival first started, other than for its silly name, is that the square and all of the adjoining Moorfolk Boulevard are lined with plane trees. Plane tree leaves are particularly good for playing in, as they are large and dry out quickly, providing excellent bounce and crunch. They also fall very quickly, towards the beginning of autumn. At one time the children would wait for a long spell of dry weather before commencing the festival, using only the leaves on this street and square, but nowadays things are more organised, and everyone would be very disappointed if it were too wet all Autumn, and the freshly fallen leaves turned to wet sludgy leaf litter before any fun could be had, as is often the case.
By 5:00pm, things are normally set up, ready for the festivities to commence properly; a large queue forms and children from all around the City wait patiently for their turn to climb up the large ladder, then throw themselves from the diving board into the frankly enormous pile of dried leaves. Once they’ve waded their way out (specially trained adult medics from the Orderlies of Good Health are on hand for any rare accidents), the next child jumps in. Normally there is enough time for every child in attendance to have at least three jumps, which takes until about 10:00pm. In the queue they throw leaves at each other and buy toffee apples with their pocket money.
At ten the festival finishes, and the somewhat compressed pile of leaves is kicked all around by the children. It will be cleared up tomorrow by the district’s public works officers, but for the meantime, Tripe Eater’s Square is a sea of leaves, and anyone who wades through tonight will be heard for miles around.
Other festivals happening today:
- The Festival of Brazen Disappointment
- The Festival of the Last Woman
- Deer Day