More vampires mark the winter solstice than the mortal celebration of Christmas four nights later. The long night is their time, and Christianity has been a plague on vampires down the centuries. And very few of them have loved ones with whom to share gifts and good company.
And yet, painful as it may be, some cling to the reminder of hope and forgiveness that the story promises.
To follow: practical considerations about the season, a decent-sized adventure hook, and two sketchy ones, one about a vampire showing very poor taste which I hope will not offend despite the vampire's attempts.
London is dark from ten to four until eight in the morning on the shortest day. In Chicago and New York, the sun sets by half past four in the middle of December and does not rise until after seven. Vampires are awake and able to venture outside twice as long as they are at the height of summer.
This alone changes their society.
Modern twenty-four-hour culture allows the undead to visit business with late openings, or work online or by telephone, but it all becomes much easier when they can get where they need to go easily before five or six in the evening. The time it frees to hunt is welcomed as well, of course.
And they have more hours to think, to act, to plot and plan. Long journeys, sustained actions, violent conflicts - winter is the vampire’s season.
The Party Season
Vampires gather for the winter solstice, to celebrate the longest night of the year and to remember how fleeting it is.
A wise prince makes a point to be welcoming, on this and the other long winter nights, because the Beast finds work for idle hands.
So tonight, by its length and the contrasting festivities outside, can become one of the most sombre events of a vampire’s social calendar. It could just as easily be one of the most frivolous, depending on the manner of the host and the entertainments offered. Indeed, at various points in the night it may well be both.
It is rare enough to see every acknowledged Kindred in the city attend the same event, but the length of the celebration makes it easy for them to come and go, paying their respects before moving on to mortal parties or more private gatherings. So entertainments and other diversions may be offered, with Kindred encouraged to take part and therefore to keep busy during the long nights.
And of course, like any office party, the politics do not take the night off...
The guests are expected to dine before arrival, having plenty of time to do so.
The forms of diversion on offer vary by individual mood, sectarian allegiance and the like. Kindred religions tend to focus on Yule rituals, reflecting or ignoring the wider human religion as suits them, while secular vampires prefer entertainments - generally nothing too avant-garde, as a sizable audience is to attend.
One common tradition, tonight or at New Year, is to mark the beginnings and ends of unlives. Those legally Embraced are noted, those slain are remembered. The memorial sometimes results in the mysteries of unsolved Final Deaths being revisited, sometimes to accusations before the court. This naturally makes for entertaining drama for uninvolved Kindred, but considering the long nights to take action it can also lead to troublesome confrontations. Kindred in authority generally prefer to have mysteries solved rather than letting them spoil their celebrations.
So, naturally, if you have an unsolved mystery, time for it to raise its head...
A vampire at Midnight Mass.
Wearing a ski hat pulled down against the cold, a raised collar, perhaps even a scarf or a hooded jacket. So natural to cover up, to hide one’s face.
To hide that he has attended Midnight Mass here every year since the night he died.
Standing alone at the back, outside the church itself, he can almost taste the warmth of the crowd. He warms himself as well, just enough that his breath mists in the cold, crisp air.
He sees another.
One of the Kindred that he thinks a heartless monster. Is she here for blood, or something else?
A vampire stalking a heavily pregnant young woman.
Far removed from humanity, lashing out against the ideas of saviours and new beginnings, and seeking the sweet, fresh blood that feeds a baby in the womb.
Old and powerful enough that he could command the coterie to leave his hunting grounds, or force them to do so.
It would take a miracle to save the woman and her unborn child...