Written for: Rhyselle

Requested: I would like a tale about someone discovering a Yuletide tradition they'd never encountered before, set preferably in the Silmarillion, but if that's a problem, LOTR (3rd or 4th Age) or the Hobbit era will be fine. If possible, have a mention of ginger biscuits in there too, please.

A/n: I'm taking Yule and Midwinter to have slightly different traditions. Sorry it's not that long, but I've been having major computer trauma! – got the ginger biscuits in though!
And no....I don't own 'Deck the Halls'....

***

Deck the halls with boughs of holly
Fa la la la la la la la la
Tis the season to be jolly
Fa la la la la la la la la
Don we now our gay apparel
Fa la la la la la la la la
Troll the ancient Yuletide carols
Fa la la la la la la la la

***

It was midwinter in the first year of King Elessar's reign and all about the city was preparing for the Yule celebrations. Great boughs of holly were being carted in from the surrounding countryside, fresh, bright holly twisted delicately throughout the leaves. The branches were also entwined with crimson and gold ribbons and strung over every door, fireplace, picture frame and statue in the palace.
Soft mistletoe, with its pearlescent berries, was also hung liberally both inside and out. The wreaths on every door in Minas Tirith caught the winter sun and sparkled prettily, the silvers, golds, greens and reds designed to catch every eye.
In the kitchens, cooks worked feverishly to prepare the most sumptuous dishes; delicious stews and sauces, luscious salads and soups and tarts and pastries and breads and every delectable desert imaginable, from candied fruit to ginger biscuits.
Even the poorest households brought out their carefully preserved stores to celebrate the midwinter.
The seamstresses and tailors cut and stitched and embroided the most delicate and expensive fabrics, mainly made in the city but also from Harad as trade began to resume after the war.
From dawn til dusk they laboured, intent on making that Yule perfect for their newly crowned king.

Inside the palace there was one who had never celebrated this festival in the sole company of men before, yet Arwen found herself filled with an inexplicable joy as she gazed out upon the city. In Lorien and Imladris they had celebrated the midwinter night with many songs but the people of this city put in so much more.
"They have been so long under the shadow" Aragorn spoke suddenly from beside her, "I am so glad to see them rejoice in the light again."
And suddenly Arwen understood. The elves saw the seasons turn so fast that every midwinter passed almost without comment, but these mortals had only a limited time upon the earth and so one could never begrudge them for being overenthusiastic in celebrating at even the darkest point of the year.
"How hard it must have been for them, these past years" Arwen sighed "They celebrated the coming of the lighter months with little hope of them being any more bearable than the dark winter."
"It is surprising what a little hope can do" Aragorn smiled.

***

See the blazing Yule before us
Fa la la la la la la la la
Strike the harp and join the chorus
Fa la la la la la la la la
Follow me in merry measure
Fa la la la la la la la la
While I tell of Yuletide treasure
Fa la la la la la la la la

***

The feasting began in earnest that evening. All the lords and ladies of the city gathered at the palace, dressed in their finest, waiting for the celebrations to begin. Suddenly the great doors sprung open and in came a large group of men and boys, dragging the large Yule log. With great effort they hauled it onto the bright fire, and, after wishing the king and all his company a merry Yule, they hurried back to their own celebrations.
As she ate Arwen gazed at her brothers on the opposite side of the table, engaged in an energetic discussion with Aragorn. She was so pleased they had come to celebrate with her and although they claimed to have celebrated Yule with the rangers she was amused to hear them quizzing her husband on the exact intricacies of the following nights.
When they had finally finished eating the harpers struck up a quiet tune and Aragorn rose to his feet. "My people, long the shadow has reigned, but now it is lifted, for too long we have been silent, so I wish to bring back an old tradition; has anyone a story or song to tell this hall?"
"Aye, my lord" a minstrel answered, and slowly more replied the same, including Arwen's brothers, and one by one they launched into their tales of courage and humour.

***

Fast away the old year passes
Fa la la la la la la la la
Hail the new, ye lads and lasses
Fa la la la la la la la la
Sing we joyous all together
Fa la la la la la la la la
Heedless of the wind and weather
Fa la la la la la la la la

***

Snow fell slowly outside and the wind blew a harsh gasp but inside the fire was bright and the Yule log burned slowly, as it would for several days yet. The revellers had long since retired and only Arwen and her brothers were left in the hall, remenising over her first Yule celebration.
"Did you celebrate like this in Imladris?" Arwen asked suddenly "when Estel was growing up?"
Elladan shrugged gently "We celebrated midwinter more than Yule; I think that despite it being so many years ago, the celebrations of men still remind father of his brother, of all that he lost and gained." The words he left unspoken hung heavy in the silence, their father seemed only to gain sorrow from men.
"I think next year you should invite him to spend midwinter here" said Elrohir "or perhaps you aught to come and visit us, I think father might appreciate learning new traditions, you know how he is for acquiring new knowledge, maybe he'll have some traditions of his own to teach, not all he remembers of his brother is sorrow and knowing mortals they'll have been following out some half forgotten tradition for years – Estel would be fascinated to know their origins."
"And father would have several good tales to add to the minstrels" smiled Elladan "that is the one thing I have missed this winter. Standing in the hall of fire listening to him sing, he always was one for tradition."
And so they stood together in silence, staring into the fire, faces wreathed in smiles at the memories.

***