08 April 2012

Noblegarden: The Joy of Life and Friendship

Noblegarden, now not just for nobles! I hope you guys are ready for a cheery, pastel explosion and subsequent egg-camping nerdrage in your racial starting zones! Blizzard's blurb about Noblegarden cites its origins as "druidic festivals from times long past" and mentions that, like the Feast of Winter Veil, while some would like to keep it traditional, others are more interested in chocolate eggs and little presents. Commercialism co-opting ancient druidic traditions? Sounds like something the goblins might want to look into...

Obviously, Noblegarden is getting all up on Christianity's Easter. However, since Easter itself has many non-Christian influences, and WoW generally avoids mentioning real-world religion, much of the Noblegarden inspiration comes from pagan roots. Originally a human holiday, Noblegarden is a festival dedicated to welcoming spring. Other Alliance races adopted it, and for gameplay convenience the Horde began to celebrate it as well.

If you're wondering why the date of Easter varies so much from year to year, it's because the date is calculated as the first Sunday following the full moon after March 21. Now that sounds like something druids would be into! The name is derived from Eostre (aka Oestre, Eastre, and Ostara), the goddess of spring and fertility. Her main symbols were eggs and hares, due to the fact that hares are capable of producing many, many offspring during their 9 month breeding season. In one story, Ostara arrives late one year, and saves a bird whose wings have been frozen by turning him into a rabbit. As an homage to his original form, she gives him the ability to lay eggs. Somehow he falls out of favor and is cast into the sky as the constellation Lepus, and is allowed to return to lay eggs for one day of each year. Eggs, of course, represent new life and are thought to have magical powers.

Kissy kissy!
The concept of an egg-laying bunny came into modern popularity in the US in the 18th century. Supposedly, the Osterhase would bring eggs to good little girls and boys who made nests in their bonnets or caps. Eggs have been decorated in countries around the world for centuries, beginning in 1307. Colors range from blood-red to gold and silver to fern decorations to generally bright spring colors. The first Faberge egg was an Easter gift! Once the process for making chocolate flow smoothly into molds was developed in the 1800s, chocolate eggs began to be mass produced during the Easter season. Originally they were made of dark, bitter chocolate, but today most chocolate eggs are made of milk chocolate. And of course, there's always the heart-stoppingly gooey Cadbury Egg.

The last time I dyed eggs was in uni
Players will be getting their chocolate on by collecting and eating Brightly Colored Eggs, hidden for hunting in each racial starting zone and also just outside Shattrath in Terokkar Forest. This practice of hiding coins, candy, and goodies inside eggs initially started with human nobles as a gift for commoners. I wonder how that's working for them out in Westfall? Since the origins of the holiday lie with druids, I can't help but wonder if the Gilnean Harvest Witches had any hand in bringing druidic traditions into human practice. (Of course, my Gilnean history is pretty spotty.) Or, since it doesn't make a ton of sense for humans to suddenly pick up druidic traditions, maybe they had their own spring celebration and were later informed by the Cenarion Circle that it coincided with their holiday.

Lookin' dapper, Aka!
At any rate, Spring Gatherers are very interested in what's up with the hidden eggs, as the druids had a hand in creating them. Fortunately, the questgivers are only interested in the shell fragments, leaving players free to spend or eat their chocolates as necessary for the various achievements associated with the holiday. The suggested game plan is to eat your 100 chocolates first, in the hopes that you will discover most of the other items you need to complete achievements. The White Tuxedo Shirt, Black Tuxedo Pants, and Elegant Dress can be worn all together, allowing you to fulfill either role of Blushing Bride. These are also non-soulbound and can be traded! If you keep your Spring Rabbit out while egg-hunting, it can find other bunnies to get busy with for Spring Fling! Fun fact: wearing new clothes for Easter has long been associated with spiritual renewal. You'll have to put on your Spring Robes before you can bring flowers to the deserts of the world!

Keep your Egg Basket clenched tightly in one hand for a speed boost when rushing to loot an egg, and hold your bouquet of Spring Flowers in the other to put bunny ears on female toons of level 18 or higher. (Weirdly, I react to this sort of creepery differently than in meatspace. In game I don't particularly mind being hunted down and bunny-eared, and I'll even click off the buff so others can do it. In meatspace it's more like, "Stop following me; I'm trying to buy vegetables/ride the train/pick my toe lint." Anything for achievements, I guess.) If you want year-round bunny ears be sure to pick up a Spring Circlet, and this year they have added a black and pink version as well! Don't vendor your Blossoming Branch without turning at least one LFR group into a warren of bunnies!

Mages might want to add Tome of Polymorph: Rabbit to their repetoire, and I imagine that everyone and their mother will be hoarding eggs this year in order to buy the fabulous Swift Springstrider for a whopping 500 chocolates! Just me? If you're interested in mass egg-collecting, I recommend picking a good camping spot with 3-4 egg spawn spots in easy reach in a busy area. There's a lot of nerd rage about spots being too crowded, but I've been on late at night when no one else is around and...when it's just you looting eggs, they spawn like a Sea Turtle! You want other people to be running willy nilly around town so that your chosen spawn points come up more often. Plus, if you have your spot all staked out, others will likely avoid it.

This holiday has 12 achievements for a total of 120 achievement points and awards the title "The Noble." It is part of the meta-achievement What a Long, Strange Trip It's Been. Although the camping and travel can be time-consuming, this holiday's meta achievement can be completed by lowbie toons as there are no level requirements. You can find out more from Wow Insider's guide or Wowhead's guide.