Sacrament of Harmony

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Sacrament of Harmony
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Religious Ceremony
Religion Unionism
Ceremony Wedding
Origin Regalia

A Unionist Wedding is traditionally called the Sacrament of Harmony, and is one of the key pillars of the Unionist faith. It stands as an institution, a union between two souls who join together to serve the Emperor and the Regalian Empire. However, it had much humbler origins; starting as a way to encourage the soldiers returning from war to settle down and start a new life and family. Despite this, it is one of the most, if not the most, enjoyed Sacraments for Unionists, and is practiced by all denominations of Unionism. The main service consists of a priest reciting the Eids (pronounced eyet), or vows of the Creeds, to the couple and anointing them with Holy Water. During the service, the couple need to do very little, as the original designs for the Sacrament took into account the illiterate masses that make up the working class of the Empire. The service rarely lasts longer than an hour and can occasionally be tailored to match the couple’s specifications within reason, such as special additions to the service or displays of love. Celebrations of the marriage afterwards have been known to last entire nights among the aristocracy. However, the Sacrament of Harmony is open to Unionists of all races and classes, and the various Churches all encourage lovers to take part in it.

Origin

The Sacrament of Harmony was not originally included when Emperor Theomar the Holy penned the Creeds. It has its origins to the late first century, after the Regalian Empire was successful in uniting the entire Archipelago under its control. As soldiers returned from the various wars, they often attempted to start a new life in their hometowns. Prior to this, many men and women shared households, but were never fully committed, which allowed either one to leave should they desire. This led to a problem in which the soldiers often would come home, make love to their childhood sweethearts, but not stay around when a child was born. At first, many officials were happy due to the sudden increase in population, seeing it as being beneficial to the Church and State. They began to realize, however, that most of the children were not being taken care of, and soon the few Sancella-run orphanages were becoming overburdened with children. This led to a Diet among the Sancella, in which they created the basis for the Sacrament of Harmony; a ceremony in which two beings would live in harmony with one another in service to the Spirit. The Sancella in Ithania was the first to test out the new service, finding immediate popularity among both the nobility, especially the females who ran various institutions. This popularity soon spread across the continent to nearby Daendroc and from there across the Empire at large. The Etosian Unionists quickly took up the ceremony, changing it to match their own culture and naming the first couple who undertook it as the Herons of Marriage. As further Schisms occurred within Unionism, they would each take their own approach to the ceremony, which is reflected in the diversity of the Sacrament of Harmony today.

Ceremony

As a note, this format is the standard, Sancellist wedding service. Each Denomination of Unionism takes this base service and modifies it to match their own unique beliefs and customs, which is noted in the next section. Unless stated otherwise, they follow the outline presented here.

Before the ceremony begins, the groom arrives first at the church and receives a special blessing from the acting priest. As this is happening, the bride, as well as the extended families of the bride and groom arrive and meet outside the church. The service is begun with the ringing of the church’s bells (or bell for smaller houses of worship), after which the groom will then stand beside the altar, to the right of the priest (when facing the altar). This is a signal for all those in attendance to rise and turn to the nave, or central aisle of the church. At this time, the extended families will begin entering the church based on order of importance, with the most distant relatives entering first and the parents of the bride and groom entering last. The bride’s family enters and stands on the left (when facing the altar), while the groom’s sits on the right. The last person to enter, often the father of the bride, escorts the bride arm in arm to the altar, before finding their seat and standing. The couple then turn to face the priest and kneel. The cleric places a pair of blessed, virgin olive branches shaped into a laurel on both of their heads, and tells them to rise. Next, he fills a small flask with Holy Water from the font, turning to the congregation and raising both hands, saying:

“Blessed are those who partake in the Union! We have gathered together today to unite two young souls together in the Sacrament of Harmony! Praise be to the Spirit and to the Empire!”

With this, he lowers their hands, indicating the congregation may sit. The priest will then proceed to say the Eids to the couple. At the completion of each Eid, the priest dips their thumb into the Holy Water, drawing the symbol of an eye on the forehead of the bride and groom to imprint the Creed onto their souls. The Eids are as follows:



After the Eids are stated and imprinted upon their souls, the priest turns back to the altar, pouring the remaining Holy Water back into the font, stating:

“This Union shall now join the church of Union as this Holy Water does, blessed by the church and all who stand before and will stand after. May they bless future Unions and stand strong with the Empire and the Emperor, as they stand strong with them for the same cause, the same dream, and the same Paradise!”

As the last of the water is poured out, the priest turns back to the congregation and looks about, stating:

“If there are any objections as to why these two should not wed, speak now or forever hold your peace!”

After a few moments have passed, with no obvious objections raised, the priest continues:

“Now as the two bodies of water once separated have re-united, so shall this Union now be seen as one by the Sancella and State. We declare <GROOM NAME> and <BRIDE NAME> married by the State and all. The couple may now mark their Union with a final seal in the form of locking lips, much as I, <PRIEST NAME>, <PRIEST TITLE> of Union seal this marriage before the Imperial Spirit! You may now kiss the Bride!”

At this point the priest strikes the Unionist handsign, moving it in an oval to represent the Radiant Eye of the Imperial Spirit. The couple may then kiss to seal the marriage as the congregation applauds for their union. The priest may end the ceremony by stating that those in attendance may congratulate the couple. It is often at this point that some sort of music is played, and the congregation is allowed to stand and move about. From here, any celebrations are entirely upon the shoulders of the married couple, and the official service is complete.

Sect Differences

  • Sancellist Unionism
    • Standard as stated above.
    • Most common wedding in Regalia.
  • Dogartan Unionism
    • Ceremony often takes place outside, wherever there is enough room available.
    • Depending on the individual, the Eid of the Eleventh Creed is not included.
    • Olive branches often replaced with tree branches from surrounding woods.
    • The bride and groom wear whatever clothing they have; does not require special outfits.
    • Often performed in smaller, backwater villages that the Dogartans wander through.
  • Etosian Unionism
    • Sacrament can only take place at dawn
    • Arranged marriages are the cultural norm.
    • Couple lights twenty candles before receiving the olive branches (ten candles each for the original ten Creeds).
    • After the Eid for the Eight Creed, the couple moves over to a shrine of the Herons Angelus and Helena, the Etosian Herons of Marriage. They must each light a stick of incense and place it before the shrine before returning to the priest.
    • Etosians also add a singular vow at the end of the Eids, where they pledge their eternal loyalty to each other. These often vary between couples, and come from the heart.
    • The objection is removed from the ceremony, believing that all marriages are blessed by the Spirit.
  • Diviner Unionism
    • Arranged marriages are the cultural norm.
    • Bride and groom consume large amounts of Opium before the ceremony; often the couple do not remember the event taking place.
    • In place of Holy Water, the Diviner Cult uses blood from a non-Ailor sacrifice that is killed prior to the ceremony.
    • Do not include the Eid of the Eleventh Creed, all mentions of “Humanum” are replaced with “Ailor”.
    • Ceremony ends with the groom cutting out the heart of a non-Ailor sacrifice, and the bride taking a bite of the heart.
    • This ceremony is illegal in all parts of the Empire, due to the murder that is involved.
  • Vultaro Unionism
    • All references to the Emperor are removed from the Eids, and mentions of the Empire are followed by “and her people”.
    • Do not include the Eid of the Eleventh Creed, all mentions of “Humanum” are replaced with “Ailor”.
    • Service is not started with the ringing of bells, but the entire ceremony is sung by the priest.
    • Most weddings are decorated with black as compared to the traditional white. The bride wears a black veil that covers her face and is lifted at the end of the service.
    • This ceremony is illegal in most parts of the Empire, as the Vultar Heresy is not protected by the Clastic Laws.
  • Priscelle Unionism
    • Arranged marriages are the cultural norm.
    • Often art of the couple is given as a gift at the end of the service.
    • Mentions of the Emperor are followed by “and his family”.
    • Olive branches are replaced with Lavender twigs.
    • The objection is removed from the ceremony, believing that all marriages are blessed by the Spirit.
    • Bride carries flowers into the service, holding them at the altar.

Traditional Attire

Grooms

Traditionally, grooms will wear the colors of their family, or if the family does not have colors, a simple white outfit. Most aristocratic families go to great lengths for their son’s weddings, commissioning elaborate outfits that incorporate the family’s sigil into a grander motif of colors. The style is often heavily impacted by the region from which the family hails, and it is not uncommon for two men who are marrying on the same day to have two entirely different styles.

Many working class families will instead dress the groom in the best clothing they have available, be it a special robe of some sort or a simple leather jerkin. However, most families will not spend extraneous amounts of money on a new outfit, and instead will trade within the family to see if they can piece together an outfit. Many men in the same generation will wear the same outfit as their brothers and cousins due to the availability of resources. Along with this, the groom wears a special yellow sash that is worn over the left shoulder. This matches the purple sash that the bride wears, and symbolizes how the groom is surrounded by the Spirit and is a part of Union.

Brides

The most common color for young brides to wear at their wedding is white, with a single purple (or different color depending on the denomination) sash that goes over their right shoulder (which is provided by the church for poorer families and is returned to the church at the end of the service). Most aristocratic families are able to afford to add their familial colors to the dress as well, frequently including capes, gloves, and even sometimes a secondary sash of the family’s main colors. These little displays of wealth are often done tactfully, so as to not cover up the main white dress underneath. Special dressmakers often find their talents in use by various noble families to create special, one of a kind dresses for the wedding of a daughter.

On the other side of the fence, the common folk typically have family dresses which are passed down from mother to daughter and are treasured heirlooms. In some smaller communities, there is a tradition of sharing a village dress that all the young brides wear, and in these little towns, it is often a competition for whoever can accessorize the best with the town dress. In the countryside, many weddings take place in simple dresses of brown and black that are accompanied by the local churches sash. The sash is an important tradition that hails from Ithania originally, and represents the encompassing of the woman within Union, and within the Spirit. These sashes are kept in special places to ensure their long lives.

Marriage Laws

Unionism holds several laws about marriage, and different denominations have stricter or looser interpretations of these laws. All follow the regulations set forward by the Empire, and simply take a stance on each. The first and foremost is that Marriage is a legal and holy institution, and should not be broken easily. This is the most strict among the Etosian Patriarchate, who view marriage as the most sacred of the Sacraments, and near mythically do they allow individuals to break it. Most other sects believe that if the cause is right, a divorce can be granted, either by the State or by the Church. State divorces require a court trial where evidence of neglect or improper care is presented to the judiciary. Church divorces are similar, but require either the approval of the head of the respected church (Supreme Reverend, Exalted Patriarch, etc.), or a two-thirds majority of the next tier down (Holy Ministers, High Clerics, Septarchs, etc.). The Dogartans simply require the blessing of at least five Brothers to get an annulment. Most who are wed by Dogartans, however, seek divorce through other channels, as it is difficult to find five Dogartans together at one place.

Unionism also has had various laws regarding polygamy, which change depending on the current head of the church and the state of the Empire. Currently the only sect that allows polygamy is the outlawed Vultar Heresy, which hopes to rekindle enough members to survive the purge that they have suffered in the past years. Finally, homosexual marriages are considered taboo by all denominations of Unionism.

Trivia

  • Contrary to popular belief, there is no exchanging of rings included in the Sacrament of Harmony. This trend is often popular among the aristocrats who wish to show off wealth, but it is not required, nor promoted by any of the churches. Common belief is that it is actually a trend that the Elves started that some Ailor wished to replicate.
  • After the creation of the Sacrament, many laws began to spring up to deal with the various problems that arose due to the sudden appearance of a new institution. These laws varied largely by region, but have since narrowed down their diversity as the Regalian Empire has expanded.
  • Occasionally, in more rural settings, a wedding has to be put off for a time due to the church’s sash becoming too threadbare and falling apart. The wedding has to wait until a new one can either be made or delivered by the higher ups in the Church.
  • A common addition to Sancellist services is for a song to be played by a small ensemble before the Eids are read. The most popular is by a young composer named Richard Walldorf, who wrote a simple duet for flute and lyre titled Duet of the Fateful.



Accreditation
Writers Doc_Cantankerous
Artists None
Processors Eccetra, Shayin
Last Editor Doc Cantankerous on 07/27/2017.

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