I’ve been getting a few questions lately asking if and how Eens celebrate Christmas. One regular commenter on this blog even suggested that Eens would call it “Eenmus!”
What a wonderful name! However, Eens don’t celebrate Christmas as we know it. Their biggest celebration in the year is Jamboreen, which is held on the Summer Solstice (the longest day of the year). I like to think of Jamboreen as Halloween in June; it involves costumes, eating, dancing, a magician’s match, and all sorts of merry-making.
The Eens also have a winter festival. It goes by a number of names, including Auld Meryn, Auld Meryn’s Eve, or Meryn’s Eve.
The Eens did not always have this holiday. After all, you must remember that winter can be a difficult time for Eens. They are tiny folk, after all, and what is a tall drift of snow for you and I might be an insurmountable hill for an Een. They are a timid people and in the ancient days of Een they did not look fondly upon enduring the longest night of the year, which happens on the Winter Solstice (December 21st or 22nd ).
Then, one particularly cold winter, a new tradition started amongst the Eens. Here’s how the legend goes . . .
ong ago, after the passing of Leemus Longbraids and the first Elders of Een, there lived an old sorceress by the name of Meryn Moonsong. She lived alone, in a cave near the Wishing Falls and she was rarely seen for it was said she loved the dark.
Now Meryn was old; so old in fact that some said that in her youth she had even known Leemus Longbraids and his six brothers. Most Eens were frightened of her, for she wore patched and ragged robes that hung loosely from her crooked body. She also had a hat with a wide rim and a tall point; this cast her ancient face in constant shadow. As for her braids, these poked out from beneath the brim of her hat like a nest of snakes, this way and that way, as if each one was ready to strike.
Then came the year when the Elders of Een gazed upon the heavens and predicted that the Winter Solstice would be the darkest even known, without so much of a glimmer from moon or star. The Eens fretted—and some even blamed Old Meryn for the coming darkness, thinking that she had cursed the skies, she loved the darkness so. The bravest of Eens even dared approach Meryn’s cave, but there was no sign of the old witch.
The Winter Solstice arrived and, sure enough, its darkness was beyond compare. The Eens huddled in their bed, cold and fearful.
Then there could be heard a clink and a clatter and when the Eens looked out their window, who should they see but Old Meryn. Her robes were indeed patched, but with bright colors of red and green, and she danced upon the crust of snow, nimble as a fairy. A circle of bells decorated the brim of her hat and at the end of each braid there hung some bauble or trinket, each twinkling like a winter star. And she sang in her ancient voice a spell so magical and old that afterwards some said it must have come from the long-forgotten Elves. And in this way, Old Meryn scattered the clouds; the dark clouds cleared and the moon smiled upon the Land of Een.
Then the Eens danced, and enjoyed a draft of Eenberry nectar. And when the Een children awoke the next morning, they found tucked in their boots small parcels of delicious treats and delightful toys.
Old Meryn was never seen again. Some wondered if she had even come at all, and that perhaps the night had just played tricks on their eyes. They wondered if the presents in the Eenling boots were but part of the prank.
But Flavius Faun, who lived in the Land of Een in those days, declared (in his Faunish way), “Why, sure as me whiskers, Auld Meryn did vanquish the dark. So we ought to rejoice, and ‘member her spark.”
Ever since that night, the Eens commemorate Meryn Moonsong on the Winter Solstice. They feast, dance, and costume their braids, tails, or wings with ornaments. And the children will awaken the next morning to find their boots stuffed with treats—but whether it is their parents or the spirit of Old Meryn, none can say.