The Imperials of all eras despised Life Day, but none more than those under the rule of Emperor Palpatine during the Galactic Civil War. At the time, Wookiees were an enslaved race. Their home planet of Kashyyyk was strictly patrolled by Imperial soldiers, and most of the population was in forced labor camps. But still, every three years, Wookiees around the galaxy would make their way to their home world in order to celebrate.
Today, I want to take a look at a story that revolves around this holiday, the origins of the holiday, and of course, how this holiday may be celebrated in Star Wars: The Old Republic.
Records of this event are limited to two journal entries of a Wookiee prisoner on the prison mining colony of Kessel. His name was Gyylghrard. Wookiees are honorable people, and Gyylghrard took on the shackles of spice mining so that his family would never have to know the life of indentured servitude. Although we are unsure whether his family was able to escape slavery, his journal is invaluable. It is one of the few records that narrate the events of the Imperial occupation of Kessel.
On day 404 of his stay in the Kessel prison, Gyylghrard found out that there were children mining in the abhorrent conditions, chained together in groups, which infuriated Gyylghrard. On this day, Gyylghrard was asked to tend to one group of children and treat their wounds in the pitch blackness of the mine. One of the chain gangs of Wookiee children got it in its head that Life Day had to be celebrated. Instead of communing with the forest, they would commune with the other Wookiee prisoners -- an honorable goal that Gyyl wish to help with.
The plan was simple. Gyyl procured some candles and sparksticks from the same Jawa contact who was providing the flimsi to write the journal on. One of the guards, Doole, had already seen to it that the Wookiee children shared mealtime. After the meal, the Wookiees would all light up their candles with the sparksticks and sing in this secret celebration for just a minute. The guards wouldn't overreact to that, right?
After the children had quickly devoured the small ration of Corellian ryshcate cakes, one of the lead female Wookiees began to growl the traditional hymn Tree of Life. All the Wookiee voices in the hall joined in. At the end of the second iteration of the chorus, hundreds of sparksticks snapped in unison. At the very same moment, hundreds of chains clanked to the floor. Little did they know the sparksticks would short out the electric shackles.
As if charged by a primal feeding frenzy, all the Wookiees went berserk. Gyyl was tackled by another prisoner as the 10 Stormtrooper guards raised their weapons on the frantic prisoners. On a single order from the lead trooper, the soldiers pulled the triggers of their blasters. The milliseconds of silence hung in the hall for a lifetime. The blasters had been drained of power.
In the moments that followed, the first wave of troopers were overcome by the sheer number of Wookiee prisoners. However, once the mob hit the launch bay, the Stormtroopers had fully charged blasters and were ordered to shoot to kill. No Wookiee in the docking bay survived. Gyyl had been hit on the head with a stun baton early in the uprising. Unfortunately, most of the young ones were not as lucky.
It was eventually reported that Gyylghrard was killed by Stormtroopers, but not before he was able to remove the head of the Warden who had order the massacre.
Life Day originates from the (thankfully) ill-fated attempt by George Lucas to make Star Wars into a regular television variety show. Hey, if it had succeeded, we may never have seen the Empire Strikes Back, and this reporter and many other fans of my generation would never have come to enjoy the Star Wars universe. What is interesting, however, is that despite the dismal failure of the source material, Life Day has lived on.
Canonically, the exact origins of Life Day are unknown. However, other cultures, especially those in the Rebel Alliance, have adapted Life Day as a way to celebrate new life and an end to tyranny from the Galactic Empire. Although it's not accepted by canon, certain cities would celebrate by constructing a wroshyr tree and playing music for the citizens traveling through (in Star Wars Galaxies, of course.)
Call me crazy, but I'm a sucker for holiday events in games. Yes, I even liked the Ewok Festival of Love, even if I thought the cupid wings were silly. Most holiday events center around having fun but not taking the game too seriously. Why shouldn't we have a really good Life Day event in SWTOR, even if it would be more interesting if they took the theme a little more seriously?
It would totally be in BioWare tradition if we played out an instance of Bowdaar's past. Maybe Bowdaar spent part pf his early life desperately wishing to get back to Kashyyyk to celebrate with his family, only to find out that his family no longer accepted him because of what he did in the arenas. What is on your Life Day wish list?
Have a happy holiday, and may the Great Tree watch over you and your kin.
The Hyperspace Beacon by Larry Everett is your weekly guide to the vast galaxy of Star Wars: The Old Republic, currently in production by BioWare. If you have comments or suggestions for the column, send a transmission to firstname.lastname@example.org. Now strap yourself in, kid -- we gotta make the jump to hyperspace!