Okay. All of my DA watchers are now caught with my watchers on FA. So from here on out it is new content in my Equestria dreamscape! Like it is in our world autumn and winter have many holidays and celebrations in Equestria. There is the Nightmare Night in the autumn [link]
. During the winter months there is Winter Veil and Hearth's Warming Eve along with New Year's day. These are celebrations that are celebrated by all ponies, but there are festivals that are generally associated with only earth pony, unicorn pony, or the pegasus pony tribes. Many of these events have ancient roots that predate the unification of the three tribes and the creation of Equestria.
Since Ponyville is primarily an earth pony community many of its celebrations encompass earth pony traditions and customs; therefore most have some connection to agriculture, forestry, or the land the some ways. The Fields of Fire Feast would be one example of these earth-related festivals [link]
. However there are two very old earth pony festivals who origins are lost to the mists of time that are celestial in their focus. The summer and winter Carousel Dance. The winter Carousel Dance is before either Winter Veil or Hearth's Warming. I am pretty certain that the Carousel Dances were the result of my subconscious trying to explain why Rarity's business is called Carousel Boutique.
The Carousel Dances are connected to movements of the planets across the heavens and were significant in helping the earth ponies with their preparations, planting and harvesting of crops. The dances are usually outdoor events, but in some of the colder north regions the winter dance is held in halls specifically built to hold the celebration. In Ponyville both dances are held outdoors in a field just outside of town. For the event a special circular tent/ pavilion is erected for the one day event. The inside the of the fabric structure is painted to represent the nighttime sky with stars and constellations. The outside of the canopy is brightly colored with images of the planets, the moon, and the sun. Around the perimeter a temporary fence is installed about chest high for a pony. It is designed to create a barrier between the carousel dancers and the audience. There are eight dancers total for dances. Two represent the sun and moon, while the other six represent the planets that were visible to naked eyes of earth ponies in ancient times. Each dancer wears a special costume that symbolizes the celestial body they represent. Their costumes consist of brightly colored bridles, blinders, saddles, blankets and harness/ tack. The outfits are festooned with bells and heraldic devices that identifying them. There is an eyelet at the bottom of the bridle that a wide mouth wicker basket hangs from. Also there are musicians and attendants who oversee managing the crowds and assisting the dancers. The attendants are older ponies who are often former dancers.
When a dance begins a gate in the fence is opened and the dancers enter the pavilion, then the gate is closed. As the music begins the dancers begin moving in a clockwise fashion around the dance/ arena floor. Each dancer has a specific track around the floor that they travel around and a very specific speed at which move as they must make their circuit around the dance floor. These circuits and the speeds represented the speed at which the planets made their passages through night skies throughout the year. Throughout the day there are performances by the dancers.
The reason the for the wicker baskets hanging beneath the dancers bridles become clear when the dances begin. In the past spectators would begin tossing small painted pebbles, acorns, or almonds with their front hooves as the dancers pass by. As they tossed them they made wishes to the planets for good health, good harvests, to find a loved one, to successfully have a foal, to have a safe journey, or the many of the other things that people have been tossed coins into fountains and wells in our world. Certain planets are considered best for making certain wishes to. If the item you tossed landed in the basket it was believed that your wish would come true. Nowadays the projectiles are flat, circular pieces of colorful ceramic that are often printed with numbers on them. Spectators are given bags with the corresponding number printed on it. At the end of the dance the baskets are emptied and the pebbles are counted. If a pony's pebble is found in the one of the basket they can redeem it for treats, little prizes, or small cash rewards. Of course ponies still make wishes to as they cast their projectiles.
The blinders on the dancers have several uses. One, they help dancers avoid being distracted by crowds around the arena. Two, they keep the dancers from being it hit in the eyes from badly aimed pebbles and other projectiles that don't land in the baskets. Three, the dancers could not see who is throwing the projectiles so they can't try to catch the projectiles in their baskets by moving their heads. Finally they provide further places where heraldic devices can be place on the ponies
This meant that the Carousel Dances felt like part morris dance [link]
, part holiday pageant, and part carnival midway. In fact there was a whole flock of stalls and booths that were set up in same field as the main pavilion. Pit fires and portable kitchens started coming to life and soon the air was full delightful smells and sounds of ponies hawking their goods.
Bags of fresh kettle corn were enjoyed by many a pony. From embers of pit fires came roasted onions and baked potatoes ready to be smothered with melted butter and devoured by hungry ponies. The Bucking Mare Inn [link]
brought a cart out that was full of savory pies filled with wild mushrooms, sharp cheese and eggs. They had baked them just that morning at the Inn. One enterprising pony baker was selling creamy pumpkin bisque that was served in sourdough bread bowls that she'd baked that day. Another pony had giant cast iron cauldrons that were filled with hot cider and hot spiced wine. Evening Sugar Cube had a booth selling hot chocolates and with Dark Roast's assistance [link]
many a pony was able to keep warm with fresh cup of espresso or cappuccino. Between dance performances local musicians provided tunes to all the ponies gathered there on brisk, clear winter day. Once again this was one of those times I was happy that I had my sense of taste and smell in my Equestria dreams.
Of course when Carousel heard about the winter Carousel Dance she insisted that we attended. As a professional exotic dancer back in her non dream life [link]
Carousel was fascinated by the dancers, the tradition, the outfits, and the concept as a whole. She wanted to volunteer as a dancer, but was politely told by Shining Mane the dance leader that first Carousel would have to join the group and learn the correct dance form for the celestial bodies before she would considered for participation in the next dance in the summer. Also she would need to buy her own dance outfit, but most of those were purchased from Carousel Boutique. Needless to say Carousel began the process of joining the group right there on spot. She was uncertain how she would afford the dance outfit but she'd work that out later. To be continued.