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The symbol of Hrastism
|Founded||Unknown; nearly two thousand years ago|
|Area served||Universal monopoly|
|The Flag of the United Provinces|
|Wars and Battles|
Hrastism (hrast meaning oak in Serbian), sometimes in English spelled Chrastism (/'kreɪstɪzm/) for easier pronunciation, is a mythology believed in by penguins across the continent, traditionally associated with Old Snowinn culture and beliefs. It is one of the oldest and most detailed mythologies in Antarctica and still exists to this day, with a sizeable community in the United Provinces of Snowiny, comprising over 70% of the population. It is the only such order in the United Provinces, and has been compared to the only other such institution in Antarctica, the Governance.
The Cult of Hrastism, by definition, is not a religion and cannot be defined as any organized set of beliefs. Those who adhere to the Cult of Hrastism all have their own beliefs though they are based on old texts, scrolls and books from hundreds of years ago. A book especially revered among the cultists is the Old Oak's Genesis (Postanak Staroga Hrasta), a book with various Hrastist legends and in which various mystical creatures and supernatural, immortal beings are described and their stories told.
Another reason it cannot be defined as a religion is because there aren't actually any gods - the supernatural, immortal beings described share many characteristics a god has, but don't qualify as gods because they are not recognized as any more special than ordinary human beings for their powers, don't have any absolute power to control all events on Earth and are not worshipped in the Hostist cult. Those god-like creatures are instead referred to as the veliki (also veliki in singular, velika feminine singular and velike feminine plural), meaning "great ones" in Serbian.
The Cult of Hrastism has a lot of power in Snowinn politics today. There was a very strong connection between the Cult and the Snowinn government in the early 2010s, under the leadership of Robert Smith, but all connections were destroyed under Simon McClark's presidency. Today, the numbers of Hrastists is still on the rise, and some nations have even expressed their concern about that, stating that Hrastism is 'bedtime stories for children converted into actual beliefs'. There have been active attempts to curb the rise of Hrastism around Antarctica but to no avail so far.
The mythology is thought to have been officially founded around 4th century AD by Osloven tribes that eventually came to settle the area of Snowiny, although their beliefs and traditions had already existed for several nearly a millennium. It expanded in size and number of adherents and started spreading outside the original Osloven tribes upon the Osloven conquests of other tribes and their territories. The number of adherents of the mythology reached its greatest extent in the 14th century with over 90% of the population being part of it - however, the numbers started declining and by the mid-19th century fell all the way down to 30%.
Attempts at reviving the mythology were promoted during the Kingdom era from 1815 to 1947, but those attempts were largely unsuccessful. The percentage of the population adhering stagnated at around 55% to 60%, until it once again started declining during the era of state-promoted atheism of the Dimitrije and Julija Lorens-Kanova. However, Marko Horacije's presidency resulted in a revival of interest in the public of their nation and its history, and by 2000 the number of adherents rose from around 25% to 45%. It was suppressed once again during Francisko Ferinco's leadership, but once the civil war ended and the country was liberalized, a boom in adherents happened and 70% of the Snowinn population is now part of the cult, with the numbers projected to be around 80% by 2030.
The biggest Hrastist community is in the United Provinces, where around 70% of the population adheres to Hrastism. 45% of Candvians adhere to Hrastism, 34% of the Emperorlandic, and additionally Snowinn, Candvian and Emperorlandic minorities all across the world, especially in Duck Island, Acadia, Moon Island and the United States of Antarctica. On the other hand, Hrastists are often subjected to significant persecution and discrimination in Shops Island, where most elements of Snowinn culture are frowned upon. Tropicalis is very similar, as fanatical beliefs are generally frowned upon and the Tropicalian government wishes to see no references to any mythologies or such beliefs at all whatsoever.
Velikis and Velikas
There are dozens, if not hundreds of velikis and these are only some of the most known ones and their descriptions.
Hrastimir is the most powerful one of them all, who, alongside Travobor, is credited for creating the universe as we know it. He is a peace-loving, tender and compassionate veliki who created all that is good and well in this world. Unfortunately, his tenderness and soft side is often exploited by the brutal and nasty Mrakovlad, who seeks total and complete domination of Earth and enslavement of all that are not his closest friends and family.
Every year, on May 25, Hrastists celebrate Hrastimir and his greatness by going in front of an oak tree, reciting a sacred ritual from the Genesis and then sharing a traditional Snowinn broth, served together with salad and fish, and spilling some of it over the tree's crust, followed by a dance around the tree to celebrate its divine origins, according to the Genesis.
Travobor (trava meaning grass) is another powerful veliki who is credited for creating nature and animals, penguins themselves included. Every 7th day of the month grass is donated to him at the local shrine, after which a ritual and a prayer ensues. This guarantees happiness and safety for all family pets and all animals mentioned in the prayer. TBA
Mrakovlad is a powerful veliki who rules the so called Underworld, from which he sends various eerie-looking creatures out at night every year on May 25 to haunt those who participated in the oak tree ritual mentioned in Hrastimir's paragraph. The eerie-looking creatures closely resemble sea lions, an animal which is known to eat and attack penguins. A lot of Hrastists stay up all night in an effort to repel the evil creatures away from their homes - if just one person in the family dares stay alive, legend has it their family will pay the price.
That, of course, had to happen to somebody. Legend has it, a girl from a village in an oak forest had her entire family abducted and killed while she was in deep sleep. When she woke up, her family was gone, and exactly 33 hours, 33 minutes and 33 seconds of prayer and begging Mrakovlad to bring them back by giving him 33 frogs at his shrine led to the frogs disappearing and turning into her family members, who were kept frozen in the Underworld for centuries in Underworld time, making them return as 333 years old people.
She then had to find a way to make her family young once again. Her time was limited however - the moment just one of them turns 334, they will all disappear into ashes. Her father's birthday was just three days away, and she had to find a solution fast. She had to beg Milosta, a velika typically associated with mercy and love, for help and forgiveness. She was then given three tasks by Milosta that were not easy to fulfill - one involved stealing potions from a local witch! However, she did it, and a ritual of dancing around an oak tree three times while throwing the traditional Snowinn broth all over it caused her family to finally become young again.
Jaspila (jasno meaning clear and pile meaning chick) is a velika who is primarily associated with the safe hatching of chicks. She is associated with legends such as an egg being laid and the egg mysteriously vanishing, with the mother having to find the egg without the father knowing where it had gone. The egg would hatch inside the forest, and be raised by several forest animals, among others puffles. Jaspila would, because of that, become associated with the discovery of puffles in Snowiny and she would be treated as if she were a tribal leader of puffles by penguins and lots of puffles themselves.
Milosta (milost meaning mercy) is the velika of mercy. She is very kind and forgiving, and this has ultimately led to her being used and deceived by Mrakovlad. TBA
Branda (braniti meaning to defend) is the velika of war. She is merciless and cruel, and punishes traitors, enemies and awards loyalty and obedience. The most famous is the story when a 19-year-old person from Kanowa was recruited for the army. He was due to fight in a major battle for his tribe, but this guy is not a patriot - he hates his tribe and is incredibly disloyal. He had to offer a dahlia, specifically a pink dahlia, to her, as that is her flower - it represents grace and dignity. However, the disobedient soldier gave her a red dahlia - this one represents betrayal and dishonesty. He gave this fully knowing what dahlia he gave, and he laughed the thought of her reacting in any way off.
However, soon the battle began. The battle initially went well, but reporters say the sky went dark really fast and covered mostly only the 19-year-old person's camp. Suddenly, it started raining and storming, and a natural disaster completely obliterated his army, while the enemy advanced on and went on to inflict even more damage to his army. He was finally wounded after being struck by lightning, and he was on the brink of his death. He survived only thanks to the mercy of Milosta, who begged Branda to lift the curse she put on the person.
Except from the myth about this event:
Ther' was ay young man,
In this land long ago.
His self-serving rant
had costed us our land!
"Take care, fella' otha' men!
T'is here bloke ain't fightin' for a grand!"
That he said, this resentful young lad,
Self-loathing his tribe having done Branda mad!
To make it worse, this gruesome young fella'
'Ey sowed a black dahlia bestowed upon 'im by a sella'!
Shame! shame on him, as laughter carries away
The misery, the price his tribe's about to pay.
So went the battle, a sunny day at last,
Branda! 'er intervention sets the lad aghast!
Dark clouds loom o'er the young lad's camp,
Blistering rain having made 'is land damp!
Battle had begun! the enemy starts to crawl,
On our tribe the burden of the brawl
Quickly starts to fall!
As for the young bloke, who this battle broke,
A thunderbolt of lightning him quickly starts to choke!
Having found his shelter, below the nature's floor,
For ridding himself the misery there seems to be no door.
The penguin starts to beg for help, and help he quickly gets
From Milosta the Mercy, who him herself begets!
"Be careful, little creature, what you wish for in your time,
Your actions will never cease to cost you a dime!"
So freed him Her Mercy, who home him expectsAs the burden of defeat he fearsomely accepts.
Traditions and Rites
Treshne or Trešnje (trešnja meaning cherry) is the most important Hrastist sanctuary, kind of like the real life Ancient Greek Delphi. Built in the 5th century AD, it is the largest and most important Hrastist sanctuary of all and is located in northeast Kanowa, close to the river Thaming and the border with the state of Oslovene. Hundreds visit this holy site every single day and there are often set time periods when sacrifices occur at the site. It is notable, however, for traditional dances in celebration of a new harvest season that take place in October, with those are often the largest ones in the entire world with nearly a thousand people in attendance.
Celebrating the beginning of the harvest season is very traditional among Hrastists, especially in Snowiny, and the tradition has been followed for over a millennium.
UP Patriotic Day
The Patriotic Day is the national day of the United Provinces and it takes place every 28 June to commemorate the Battle of Penland and the struggle of the Snowinn nation. Traditions include a grill around 6 PM and a subsequent family gathering to eat at 7 PM, when the family joins together in a Hrastist 'prayer' centered around a branch of oak in a glass of water on the center of the table. The father of the family then recites a passage from the Old Oaks Genesis, and then the family proceeds to eat. The oak in the glass of water is supposed to represent life and growth.
- There is no officially established "Church of Hrastism" or anything. It is simply a belief, and there is no system to organize it.