Moving up from childhood I am remembering the first Solstice Feast I had- it was at my parents house of course, and I was still in college. I’d gone into Haymarket and picked up a suckling pig (to create the right centerpiece).It had been frozen while hung up, so I carried it over my shoulder like a board except on the train. A TV crew took a picture of me in haymarket with the pig and buying some holly, but I didn’t catch the news, so I have no idea if they used that footage. Thank goodness I picked it up early, so it had a chance to thaw. The other image I remember from that first feast was someone brought a meatloaf cooked in a ring mold with baby carrots piled around it. The table only lacked tinsel festoons to make a fair representation of all of those scenes in movie versions of the Christmas Carol when the Ghost of Christmas Present arrives (which is, of course, what we were going for). It was that first one that instituted many of the customs we continue- making home-made ornaments for the tree, the lying contest, the eating contest (I think that year we used half gallons of ice-cream, then moved to donuts), party games like “the ministers cat”, dancing at sun-up. The next year was the first year I knew SCA people and James and Ælfwine were there- and that one melds in my mind with others. The year at Washington Court where we all got snowed in and Ianthe introduced me to Latkes was memorable too- Fernando was lord of misrule and gave out amazing forfeits. We’ve kind of let most of the contests go since the celebration has taken on so many “open house” aspects- people coming and going as their schedules allow. I used to get very involved in the Grand Enactment, which it now occurs to me was a Role Playing Game before RPGs were invented! Maybe it would work better these days now that people understand the concept.
But we made it from dusk until dawn- the Longest Night of the year! and welcomed back the sun!
That very first year I had been selling candles Dad had wholesale, and picked one as the Solstice Candle to burn all night from sunset to sunrise. It lasted about 20 years, then I melted into a pot with some red candle dye and several pounds of beeswax and recast it, so it continues on. Some years we haven’t stayed up, and I am pleased that as I got older, younger people were willing to take on the vigil.
Here are pictures from 2007 Solstice. This was the year I think that Tom Hart and his guys shoveled off the roof for us, and the snowpile on the herb garden was so high they kept jumping off into it.
Hail to all our guests this year and all previous years!