So this will come as no surprise to anyone, but I’m a big fan of the Kushiel series. At least I’m a big fan of the first three books. So – being both a big Pagan and a big Sensual Hedonist – it will also come as no surprise to anyone that I want to throw a Longest Night party.
Like, a Big One.
And, of course, that involves things like venue rentals and finding a DJ and sorting out who’s playing what role in the (rather heterosexual, dammit) Solstice Play, arranging for crash space (or sex/play space, for that matter), dealing with the catering, and, y’know, actually paying for it all. O.O
Consequently, this is leading me to wonder what the Commoners in Terre d’Anges did for the Longest Night.
What I imagine is that restaurants like The Cockerel would be open even later than usual, with their best-looking and/or most-crowd-favoured staff members playing the roles. There would probably be (one glass of) joie on the house, the same way places around here give out (one glass of) complimentary champagne on NYE. A lot of people would go out to these and they’d Dress To Impress while they were at it.
Other restauranteurs (or anyone else who had the where-with-all to borrow/provide the materials) might do courtyard suppers – the kind of thing where you set out portable fire-pits (like chimineas?) in the squares and do a stone-soup style meal for anyone who doesn’t have anywhere else to go.
I suspect that people would hold family/phamily parties with non-catered food, gathering their extended families and/or their Community into which ever available house is the biggest, and maybe the most-recently married/engaged couple in the clan/community would get the roles of Earth and Sun. Or Maybe there’s a lottery dessert – a rich cake full of eggs and sugar with vinegar-brightened copper centimes and a copper ring, and whoever gets the ring plays Earth and whoever had it last year plays Sun.
I suspect people would shell out as much as they could to put on a Fabulous Spread but, while the Nobs are drinking Joie straight from the glass, the ordinary people might be more likely to use it as a flavouring in mixed drinks (mulled white wine or apple cider laced with Joie after it’s been heated, for example) or baking it into cakes and cookies.
People would wear paste-board domino-masks decorated with chicken/turkey feathers that had been dyed in as many bright colours as possible, or else they might do face-paint. There would be paper crowns and other party-hats in order to do masquerade on the cheap, and everyone would listen for the town bells at midnight, whether or not they owned a clock.
What do you think people of limited means would do to mark the Longest Night if we were in a culture where Winter Solstice, rather than something a few days later than that, was the Big Winter Holiday that “everyone” was presumed to celebrate?