The fact of the matter is that nobody can agree on why Buentoillitants named the little cabbages on a stalk ‘Brussel’s sprouts.’ There are plenty of theories, none of which seem to align perfectly, but clearly with all of them there has been some connection made with Saint Brussel and the vegetable. Indeed, Brussel’s sprouts seem to be a generally controversial plant, one which inspires the most heated disagreements on this, Saint Brussel’s Day.
The most popular explanation for the name and also the positioning of today’s festival in the calendar is that the sprouts were brought to Buentoille by Saint Brussel in the early 13th century, when they were popular as a late autumn crop that would store into the winter better than other, larger leafy greens. Adherents to this theory point to the images in the Saint’s tomb, which appear to show a saintly figure holding aloft a stalk of Brussel’s Sprouts, which then are placed into the ground, as if being planted.
Yet there are some scholars who say that this ‘stalk’ is actually a club, similar in design to those used by a number of ancient tribes that were later subsumed by the Chenorrian Empire. The images are perhaps symbolic of the Saint’s flight from these lands, and their renouncement of violence when they got safely to the City. The official Chastise Church version of the story straddles these two theories, claiming that the Saint performed a transmutation of his weapon into vegetable matter, symbolic of his devotion to peace and prosperity.
Today, as with all saintly festivals, the Church will hold a special service in honour of the Saint and his teachings of laying down arms and performing useful labour. At the end of the service the priest and a small entourage of faithful farmers will take the best stalk of sprouts from their harvest, which will have been cut from the fields very recently, perhaps even this morning, and place it upright in a pot at the tomb’s entrance, behind the iron gates that lead into one of Buentoille’s most ancient tombs, a locked offshoot of the catacombs.
Even for those who are not followers of the Chastise Church, today is a day to cook and eat Brussel’s sprouts. Generally they will be roasted along with other vegetables of the season, or perhaps sliced thinly and used as a salad or stir-fry. Another popular dish is Brussel’s Pie, where the peeled and quartered vegetables are mixed with a cheese sauce and potatoes. This dish can go without a lid bit traditionally it will be lidded, with the image of a sprout stalk made from extra pastry laid on top. Much like with Pea Day, experimentation is encouraged, and meals tend to be shared to larger-than-average gatherings; it seems that Buentoille has a fondness for round green vegetables.
A popular story told about the Saint today, which again seems somewhat at odds with the other versions of his association with the sprouts, is that he invented them as a way of making a group of peasants happy. In this story, the Saint is Buentoillitant, a man who makes pilgrimage to the Anscestor mountains every year, and every year on his way out of the City he would pass by a pub, where he would eat and would hear the same argument about cabbages. The nub of the argument was that the peasants could not agree who would get the sweet inner core of the cabbage they’d cooked, and who’d get the bitter outer leaves. One day, in a fit of annoyance, the Saint walked into the pub’s centre, planted his staff and out from it sprouted many little cabbages, so that everyone would be able to eat the sweet centres.
There are at least three pubs which claim to be the very pub from this story: the Saint and Staff, the Tiny Cabbage and Saint Brussel’s Halt. Each will put on great feasts of Brussel’s sprouts today, trying to outdo each other with their grandiose recipes, and one of them (The Tiny Cabbage) even has its own alcoholic concoction made using the veg, which is said to be quite foul. Ironically enough, Saint Brussel’s attempt to make peace amongst the people of Buentoille has actually led to further argument; after this story is told there is traditionally an argument about whether or not sprouts are actually sweet or not. It’s clear which side of the argument most young Buentoillitants fall on, seeing that today’s festival is officially unrecognised by the Union of Children.
Other festivals happening today:
- The Festival of Weighing the Good
- Temmule’s Day
- The Rested Lover Festival