The Longest Night

There is no other big city farther north than Edmonton, on this continent. In our research, this fact didn’t light you up as much as we had suspected. What lights you up is the notion of making something. Importing a glamourous event from Norway: not so Edmonton. Building an Edmonton ritual or tradition from the ground up, an invention of our own: that works.

A couple of months ago, councillor Don Iveson spoke of something he’s going to do with his friends and family: a longest night party. The winter solstice is next week. It will be darker here, on that day, than in any other Canadian city.

What’s the contrary of dark? Fire.

There is, in Councillor Iveson’s front yard, a patio and a firepit. To prepare for next week’s party, he’s going to build a wind block with snow. The councillor knows the rules for urban fires: “all you need is a spark arrestor and clean, dry wood,” he said, on a bright Sunday. “There can’t be paint on it and it can’t be treated.”

Other rules?

There isn’t a fire ban in the city, and none is expected. Snow is helpful in that regard. So Make Something Fun.

Sarah Chan, councillor Iveson’s wife, will be in charge of the mulled wine. The councillor might be in charge of shovelling and hot rum and music.

“I’ll be concerned with the soundtrack,” he said. “James Brown’s Funky Christmas will be a big part of it.”

To summarize, Sarah Chan and Councillor Don Iveson’s recipe for Longest Night Party success in Edmonton:

1. Encourage guests to dress warmly. With boots, hats, and the deification of goose down, there has never been a better time to be stylish in the cold.

2. Booze. Preferably warmed up.

3. No sparks and clean dry wood.

4. See below.


3 thoughts on “The Longest Night

  1. We’ve held a Winter Solstice Party each December 21st for over a decade now. I inherited the tradition when I got married, and we alternate with friends, depending on everyone’s schedule. This year, it will be at our house, and it is filled with long, drunken toasts, and the occasional ode to winter. In fact, your invitation is on its way, but it looks like you’re already spoken for that evening. Maybe you’ll be touring Solstice Parties that night for research? Whether I see you that evening or not, enjoy the darkest day of the year!

  2. we will be at an end-of-the-world/winter solstice party that night. i shall have to remember to take at least one toast outside onto the balcony!

  3. We’ve decided to host a Winter Solstice Party for the first time this year as well. We’ll light a few fires and roast some hotdogs and smores. We’ve also promised warm drinks, glowsticks (I’ve already bought out the dollar store) and a lantern parade to the toboggan hill for the kidlets. I like the snow wind-barrier idea – anyone know if it’s safe to use a trampoline in winter?

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