I am dithering: is Y for Yard or for Yule? As they are both quite short topics, let’s do both of them!
Yard as in three feet, a unit of measurement. In the stories Fred and George use feet, inches, yards and miles. Fred also refers to chains as a unit of distance. 22 yards make 1 chain. 10 chains make a furlong and there are 8 furlongs in a mile. A chain is the length of a cricket pitch (between the two stumps). However, there is definitely reference to metres in some part of these tales. Somebody in the realms has gone metric, and it is unclear whether all the castles use their own measuring systems or whether change is coming to the realms. There isn’t much interaction between the realms and the continent across the water but some of the coastal castles, including Wash and Dimerie have trade with castles ‘overseas’, so maybe they are modernising their systems to make trade easier.
Yule is a period of festivities all over the realms. It starts with the Solstice and ends with Green Willow Day ten days later. Solstice is greeted with a formal ceremony and speeches about the passing of time and the renewal of the earth. It’s usually very cold during Yule, and can get even colder in the months following, so it seems rather early to celebrate the renewal of the earth, and the green shoots on the willow, but that’s what they do. Then during the ten days there are lots of meals, fireside chats and get-togethers for friends and families, and usually some games to keep everyone entertained. It is the busiest time for Narrators – any community that does not have a resident narrator usually persuades an itinerant one to stay for the festival. Often an itinerant one will return to his or her home area so as to be with old friends and family. Some prefer to be with strangers, though!
In some castles there are special traditions for Yule. Castle Wark, which is the Seat of Learning for Business, always performs plays during the period. It has three which it rotates, doing the same one every third year. Castle Powell requires children to do good deeds for others for three days during Yule. This is not as bad as it sounds as on Green Willow Day there is a lovely gifting ceremony and party for everyone. In Castles Palatinate and Sowerby, and most of the region to the north of them, there is a tradition of a party on Green Willow Day that starts in the evening. At midnight everyone leaves their houses and goes to their neighbour’s house. There they leave a gift of food on the table before gathering in the street for a dance called Strip the Willow, then they return home. Some persons have been known to return to the tavern for a while before returning home, then sleeping late the next day.
The day after Green Willow Day is called New Year’s Day, and that is when the count of the new year begins.