WHAT IS THE LONGEST NIGHT?
Longest Night, a yearly event that takes place on the Winter Solstice, is a celebration of the past, a moment to share with the people who matter most to you, and a quiet pause in-between the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
During Longest Night, small groups of family and friends gather to exchange stories, gaze into the night sky, and even share some of their favorite things with other people. Although the event does occur on the Winter Solstice, Longest Night is not a religious holiday. It does, however, share similarities with the Christian Advent concept of Blue Christmas, a day in which those who are deceased are remembered.
A traditional Longest Night is comprised of three parts. These three parts are listed below, and represent a connection to the past, a connection to the future, and a connection to the present.
During lost stories, family members are encouraged to tell 'forgotten' stories about their ancestors, or people that their ancestors knew. More often than not, these stories are exaggerated or entirely fictionalized. Embellishment, exaggeration, and creative liberty are an important part of Longest Night stories. The goal is not to recite a perfect and accurate story from your family history, but instead to create an engaging and memorable story that entertains, cautions, or teaches.
Since it is the Longest Night of the year, stargazing with the unaided eye is an important part of the evening. Staring into the night sky to spot constellations, and relaying the stories of those constellations, allows participants to experience the grandness and scale of the universe from wherever they are. Looking upward also helps remind us of the future, and the infinite possibilities that the future may bring.
Finally, each Longest Night should be accompanied by sharing a family tradition with another family. Celebrating individuals and families are encouraged to produce something that is unique to their family (i.e. homemade bread from great grandma's recipe) and gift that to a neighbor or neighboring family. In this way, family traditions are carried on and shared with others in order to allow them to carry on new life.