"Love is kind, except when it's cruel. At this time of year, Fallen Londoners celebrate by sending unexpected gifts. ... Join the Feast, watch the crowds, or send something special to someone special. Or someone special to something special."Every February in the Neath, Fallen Londoners don masks and engage in a romantic holiday event known as the Feast of the Exceptional Rose. While the name of the festival comes from the annual blooming of the Exceptional Rose, very few have actually seen this flower, which has a babylike face and gold fangs.
During the Feast, Mrs. Plenty hosts a set of seasonal carnival attractions, such as the Wheel of Affection, in a special area known as the Perfumed Pleasure Garden. The Shuttered Palace even holds a special ball for very important persons where one can become acquainted with the Captivating Princess. Chaperoned dates in the gardens of the palace are common, as are masked dances.
It is a holiday tradition for friends to send each other special feast gifts. These gifts range from the strange, like a glass full of teeth, to the chivalrous, like a murder of one's rival, or something useful like a Blemmigan Pedant.
This is also the time of year when Millicent Clathermont, aka the Lady in Lilac or simply Lilac, is most prominent. Lilac is known to avoid those who look for her the most and can be difficult to find. But more importantly, she runs a tattoo parlor where one can get a variety of amazing designs inked into one's skin forever if desired.
Original by NiteBrite/Mrs. Brite
What is the Feast of the Exceptional Rose?
"Fallen Londoners are truly sentimental, and nothing delights them more than romance and secrecy. At the Feast of the Exceptional Rose there are masked balls, organised by Mr Wines itself, and seething with intrigue; folk are more daring behind a mask, and some surprising intimacies occur. Smitten young men create elaborate treasure-hunts to guide their beloved to a gift of jewellery or crystallized fungus, all tied up with red ribbon. Besotted young women write riddling, anonymous messages on cards covered with painstaking découpage. Urchins sell bunches of paper violets for truly outrageous sums of money to forgetful spouses. Shop windows teem with adorable stuffed bats holding little stuffed hearts. A sizeable part of the population consume as much honey, wine, laudanum or all three as they can lay their hands on, and hide under blankets until it's all over.
"The Exceptional Rose is said to bloom once a year, around the time of the ancient festival of Lupercalia. It has a little child’s face, plump and smiling, but it only blossoms for a day. So the Feast was fertility and death both. Well it would be. You know how these pagans are. These days, of course, it's all about Love. Fallen London forgets how the Feast was born in the hungry days at the thin tail of winter. Now Londoners send trinkets and sweetmeats to those they are courting. All this is done playfully, in affected secrecy, but sometimes hearts can really be broken. Not all the gifts are sweet ones."
What is the Exceptional Rose?
"The Exceptional Rose is a legendary member of the vegetable kingdom. Well, maybe the animal kingdom. Science is complicated. At least we can say with reasonable certainty that it is not mineral. It is a tall creature, growing from the ground and apparently rooted to it; but it carries on top a remarkable bloom. This remains tightly in bud, except for a day in late winter, when the flower opens to reveal, nestling in gorgeous red petals, a little child’s face. It looks very darling, until it smiles.
"Some say the Rose is a vicious, fanged flower that will bite anyone who gets too close. Some say it's a cherub, keeping watch over star-crossed lovers, or mischievously dooming folk to fall unrequitedly in love with unsuitable people. Some say that if you pick the bloom on the morning of the day it opens, and crystallise it in sugar, you can win the heart of anyone you feed it to. And who wouldn't want a sugared rose petal?
"Scholars find the Rose a very fruitful subject. Its strength as metaphor is explanation enough of the legend, say some. See how the plant is fickle? See how the cherub looks angelic, and has a venomous bite? See how it sucks the very life from the ground! Deadliness, beauty, trickery, and jealousy are all tied up together in this one outlandish notion. Wonderful metaphor for love, you see. Other scholars, of course, believe it exists, and will show you pictures on rotting parchment to prove it."