Also referred to as: the Key of Spring, the Key of the Heart, the Frostbreak Festival, the Discovery of Love
Vernius - the Key of Spring - is a festival celebrated by common folk everywhere in Sidereus (though it often goes by different names depending on region), but also specifically by the clergy and devoted followers of Aviaz, Tallis, Vârsha and Zephyr, but most notably by followers of Zaria. Originally, near the middle of the Third Age, the festival was celebrated almost solely by the clergy of Tallis and was called "Frostbreak". In this incarnation it was solely a celebration of Winter coming to an end, and a reason to celebrate and prepare for the coming bounty of Spring and a new planting season. Over time, it spread to the followers of Vârsha and then to Zephyr and Aviaz. Followers of Zaria were actually the last to adopt celebration of the festival, adding the renewing of the cycle of life to the list of reasons to celebrate. According to clerics of Zaria, the transitional period as Winter approaches its end and Spring struggles to be born from beneath the snows is a time when all forms of life begin to emerge. Conception takes place in this dead period, so that when Spring finally does arrive, new life is there to greet it. In the eyes of the clergy of Zaria, this marked the festival as a celebration of Love in all its aspects. In the year 2560 of the Third Age, a Harbinger of Zaria and a Harbinger of Tallis appeared in a small chapel of the Order of the Morning Rose, and declared that this day would now be known as Vernius - the Key of Spring.
The Harbinger of Zaria explained that in the times that had transpired, the Void Serpent and the powers of Shadow had gained such a foothold that a celebration of the unconquerable power of Love was essential to the survival of the Blessed Living and their progeny. The followers of Zaria and the other gods of Light were instructed to go forth and spread word of Love and Hope in this time of darkness and despair. The words delivered by the Harbinger were spoken in the binding oath of the Celestial Tongue, saying; "Love is the master key that unlocks the gates of Happiness, Hope, and Courage. Draw strength and find solace in this day and the blessing of the Sacred Light will be upon you."
From this point forward, the celebration was known as Vernius - the Key of Spring or "the Key of the Heart". On this day it is common for those who revere the gods of Light to celebrate the love they hold for friends and family, but it is also notably the celebration of true romantic love between two people. The customary greeting given between followers of Zaria on this day is a kiss upon the hand, or a kiss upon the forehead of the followers are particularly close friends or lovers. As a gift, it is common for those who are in love or those who are seeking love to give a key to one they adore, in respect for the holiday, the goddess Zaria (in her aspect as a keeper of oaths and of hidden places), and as a representation of the idea of giving another person the "key to your heart". Friendly gifts of chocolate, flowers and other treats are commonly given as well - though these may also be given between friends and family and are not solely romantic. Promises made on this day are seen as having added weight, and will often be given on small scrolls and signed in blood or ink crafted from rose oil. These oaths, called "Vernials" or "Vernial Oaths", may promise anything from continued friendship to oaths of brotherhood and devotion between allies. It is said that Zaria herself oversees all oaths made on this day, and will often bless certain oaths making them magically binding. This, among other factors, has made the day extremely popular for weddings and other such celebrations.
- This is the Sidereus alternate for the real-world holiday of Valentine's Day