For the Most Holy Church of the Magnificent Sunflower, today is one of the most anticipated days in the calendar. Acolytes will have spent many days preparing magnificent-sunflower-based foods, including breads, spreads, snacks and rhine (a curious type of beer made from magnificent sunflower meal – the leftover by-product from oil production), which will be consumed today, in the main hall of their church.
However, the consumption of these foods is ancillary to the main event; the tasting of last years’ harvest. The kernels are stored in complete darkness since the harvesting in late August, and are guaranteed to have reached full maturity by January 10th, regardless of the exact day they were harvested. Grandmaster Sun will be the first to taste the previous year’s bounty, and, along with the other members of the First Seed, he will decide the level of vintage and esteem the harvest should receive. Amongst other things, this will decide whether any of the magnificent sunflower seeds are replanted in the late spring.
The magnificent sunflower is a particular variety of sunflower which is renowned for its mild hallucinogenic properties, and reputed numerous health benefits. Members of the Church report visions of angels dressed only in sunflower petals, of animated kernels, and typically an enormous sense of well-being and enlightenment. It is also claimed that a particular chemical in the seed enables humans to ‘perceive our glorious and invisible masters, the Heliophene, who walk amongst us.’ Unfortunately, access to the seeds is tightly controlled by the Church, and they have not permitted access for scientific testing to verify these claims.
The magnificent sunflower is a smallish flower, compared to its commercial cousins, and would not be particularly easily distinguishable from many wild varieties, except for the fact that the head tends not to follow the sun, but instead roves around in seemingly random directions. According to the Church, the flowers move in response to the presence of nearby Heliophenes.
According to Grandmaster Sun (birth name Indorus Finch), he found the dried seeds in an ancient, derelict temple, whilst on an expedition to the Summer Isles. There he apparently also found a number of religious texts which he subsequently translated, and which formed the foundation for the Most Holy Church of the Magnificent Sunflower. Whilst there is evidence that Sun travelled to the archipelago in the early 60s, the Grandmaster has been unwilling to produce these documents for scholarly study, citing their fragility. Critics of the Church point out that the Grandmaster’s visit there was as part of his former employment at Biojohnsoncorp as an expeditionary geneticist, and allege that he engineered the variety of sunflower in their labs. It is important to remember that this is unproven speculation, and critics have yet to produce any evidence that Grandmaster Sun is lying.
Other festivals happening today:
- Grammar Is Important Festival
- The Festival of Ark Remembrance