The Day of Masks (Part 1)

So if you haven’t heard of The Day of Masks then you know absolutely nothing about one of the most widespread and celebrated holidays in the city. Though do not be fooled by the hype of popularity, it’s a lot more recently created then one would think. Or so I’ve found out.

The Day of Masks came about after The Great Move, when native residents of Distinct Poplar’s neighborhoods began leaving their traditional homes and picking up roots in pursuit of greener pastures. But they didn’t move out of the city, no they left only their old neighborhoods behind and moved up into other parts of Distinct Poplar. Parts where, back then, they weren’t welcome at all. 

This was a problem for lots of people in the city, because living in a neighborhood all your life is very important to them. This is called ‘status’ you see, and it’s all about your status everywhere you go. Where you live and what neighborhood you come from matters, and you will be judged good or bad depending on where you come from and where you are trying to be. 

You may not realize how many different neighborhoods there are in Distinct Poplar. Each has a lot of weird traditions, rituals and practices that the people who live there follow in order to fit in. For example; there is a neighborhood called Red Leaf Run, that purposefully gets rid of it’s native born sons and daughters. Yup you guessed it, parents remove their own children from the bottom of plain and ordinary living and into higher neighborhoods of elegance and sophistication. And almost every other neighborhood is higher up on the status food chain then Red Leaf Run. Weird, I know, but it’s true. People there want to give their kids a leg up by being raised in a “better” neighborhood. Which, if it works, gives them better status, and sometimes it works out pretty good too. Believe you me, many an odd looking kid finds themselves in the foster care system of a higher status neighborhood. Sticking out like a sore thumb in a mismatched family. Shouldn’t be too hard to guess that most people in Distinct Poplar turn their nose at kids who come from Red Leaf Run.

It used to be easy (or so I'm told) to pick out which neighborhood someone came from. People had a look about them, their clothes, the way they walked, the way they cut their hair. So what’s one example of this? Well, I know that men from Almer’s Way wear peacoats and sport fancy bowler caps with a colored ribbon wrapped around it. Each color of ribbon means something different. I don’t know what the ribbons stand for or what each color means, but I hope to find out. Till then, you could ask the stylish men of Almer’s Way if you must, but they won’t tell you…thats a neighborhood secret. See what I mean?

Anyway, at some point the people of Distinct Poplar felt a need to keep their identity strong, what with all the sudden moves people were making. They wanted to be free of complications from who was coming in or out of the neighborhood. Makes sense when you think about it, everyone starts picking up shop and looking a better spot across town. It makes people afraid of what might happen to the tried and true cultural oddities that have defined their lives for generations. People don’t like change, it’s sad but true.

So to keep their status and neighborly identity, the people of the city passed down a crafting tradition to their kids so that their values might continue into the future untainted. Those kids would have kids, and those kids would have kids, and the family keeps it’s identity in an uncertain future world where tradition and culture are threatening to be absorbed by neighborhood jumper-squatters. That’s what they called them, those people who moved into the neighborhood you lived in, they called them jumper-squatters.

Now, as I understand it, after The Great Move from neighborhood to neighborhood, it wasn’t as easy to tell who comes from which part of where. Due to all the moves people got confused, so people put their heads together, and soon people started making masks. Then each neighborhood began a special day when everyone put on their masks, and kept them on for the whole entire day. Those who were native to their neighborhood, who's family had lived there for generations, they all used the same crafting styles and techniques. So their masks basically looked the same.

Those who were new to the neighborhood, who's family hadn't had time to lay down roots, who brought with them the rituals and cultures of their original neighborhood. Those new people tried their best to fit in, but when the Day of Masks came, they had nothing to wear to fit in, and knew they would be outed with that all to ugly term, jumper-squatters. However, that didn’t stop the new neighbors from trying. Fitting in, becoming a part of the neighborhood - well that was super important. It’s how they got their new ‘status’. So the newcomers tried to make neighborhood mask replicas, but the crafting techniques that their established neighbors used were too secretive, too specific —and replicas often failed.