2007-12-01

nog's eve: a brief history

The Nog’s Eve Historical Society is pleased to present “A Brief History of Nog’s Eve”:

The origins of Nog’s Eve are shrouded in mystery. Doubtless, the reasons for celebrating Egg Nog are utterly transparent—after all, a tasty holiday beverage deserves all the respect and celebration one can muster. But how did Nog’s Eve come to be celebrated in its current tradition?

Up till now, there has never been a concentrated inquiry into the origins of Nog’s Eve, but as far as we can tell, the Nog’s Eve tradition followed a rather circuitous route into Winnipeg via Regina from Vancouver. In tracing these origins, we have relied on second hand accounts and, admittedly, unverified sources; as such, this brief history serves only as an overview. In years to come, this account will be expanded and updated. However, let us now turn to the history of Nog’s Eve, which begins with a fellow by the name of Craig Cadwell.

At the end of the last millennium, a fellow by the name of Craig Cadwell attended Canadian Bible College, located in Regina. One of his degree requirements obligated Craig to complete an internship at a church; he ended up in North Vancouver at North Shore Alliance Church. Legend has it that Craig encountered Ben Taylor, a fellow from North Vancouver who had celebrated Nog’s Eve for years, refusing to partake of Egg Nog until the beginning of December each year; as a result, November 30th, the last day before December, became Nog’s Eve, and a vigil was held to observe the first nog of the season at midnight. However, at this point, it is unclear how exactly Craig encountered the traditions of Nog’s Eve or from whom he learned the ways of Nog; but we can be fairly certain that he took them to heart, bringing these learned traditions back to CBC and Regina with him.

Some years later, in the year 2000, a year filled with all the hope of an entire millennium, an American lad by the name of Colter Diehl moved to Regina to begin attending CBC. There he met Craig Cadwell and while decorating for the annual Christmas banquet Colter was introduced to the traditions of Nog’s Eve. On this early Nog’s Eve, Craig and Colter, as well as Dave Coutts and Aaron Gerrard, toasted the commencement of the 2000 Nog Season precisely at midnight. The basic rule of Nog’s Eve, firmly established at this early stage of Nog history, was to refrain from the consumption of Egg Nog until the month of December had officially begun. And the toast at midnight officially begins the Nog Season and celebrates both Egg Nog itself and the good holiday cheer of the Christmas/Advent season.

At this point, Nog’s Eve history becomes less opaque, moving from the realm of second-hand information to the more familiar territory of personal experience. It was in the autumn of 2001 that I (i.e. Chris Campbell) moved to Regina and began attending CBC, at which time I met and became fast friends with Colter. And it was through this friendship that Nog’s Eve has come to such fabled notoriety.

On November 30, 2001, Colter introduced me (as well as Joel Gorrie and Tom Mulhern) to the tradition of Nog’s Eve. But due to a mishap in timing, this Nog’s Eve was celebrated in a bus shelter on Fourth Avenue between the CBC campus and Kline’s, the local convenience store. We huddled in the glass booth with a litre carton of Egg Nog each, toasting the commencement of the Nog Season in the cold and snow. But this cold celebration proved to establish the seeds of a warm tradition, these cold roots grew to produce many branches.

The following year, 2002, saw the beginning of Nog’s Eve celebrations in Winnipeg under the guidance and careful planning of Chris Yorke and Steve Campbell. This first annual Nog’s Eve celebration in Winnipeg took place in Fort Garry at a common, shared house and was met warmth and acceptance. Unfortunately, although I had brought the ways of Nog to Winnipeg, introducing both Steve and Chris to its traditions, I was unable to attend the first annual celebration; I was on a trip to the very small town of Munich, North Dakota, with Colter and Dustin Hrycun where we celebrated with a very warm family and several friends.

At this point, Colter and I parted company and I have attended Nog’s Eve celebrations each year in Winnipeg. It has been hosted in various households throughout the city of Winnipeg, from its original celebration location in Fort Garry to a house in Fort Rouge and, most recently, the West End. Today marks Winnipeg’s Sixth Annual Nog’s Eve, the commencement of the sixth season of Nog. And I suppose we are all better for such a celebration of friends and family, of the holiday season, and the warmth and joy of Egg Nog.

Over the last five years, subsequent Nog’s Eve celebrations have occurred throughout Canada and the United States. To my knowledge, Colter has celebrated Nog’s Eve each year in California, but ever since 2003 in Redding, Colter has not thrown a Nog’s Eve celebration; rather, he has marked the commencement of the Nog season in private observance.

Dustin Hrycun, who was introduced to Nog’s Eve in 2002, has gone on to celebrate Nog’s Eve each year in larger and greater celebrations in Regina, Calgary, and Edmonton. This year, Dustin threw a Nog’s Eve celebration in Edmonton and, in future years, hopes to expand the commencement of the Nog Season to include philanthropic enterprises, such as, for example, an opportunity to raise funds and awareness for non-profit relief organizations.

Each year I receive several emails around this time of year letting me know about the spread of Nog’s Eve, about a party here or there, and always wishing me the very best with the commencement of the Nog Season. I have no knowledge of whether Nog’s Eve is still celebrated by any at North Shore Alliance in Vancouver or whether Craig Cadwell still partakes of the tradition. I don’t know whether other celebrations have picked up or begun freshly across this continent or perhaps some other. I don’t know whether the Nog Season thrives with greater recognition and widening notoriety with each passing year, or whether the years pass by simply in the minds of those key figures of Nog history. But whatever does or doesn’t happen each year, I remember those early days of Nog’s Eve and I remember these last few years of Nog celebrations, and I feel a burgeoning hope bloom within me that Nog’s Eve will grow in the fecund soil of goodwill and hope, peace and joy.

So on this, the commencement of another season of Nog, I wish you all a happy Nog’s Eve 2007!!! And a most holly jolly Nog Season!!! Here’s to you and to all your friends and family!!!


ps- Past Nog's Eve photos and email poster adverts will be posted to follow... If there are any you wish to contribute, please email them to me with something like "Nog's Eve memories" for the subject label. Many thanks and much fond feeling...

4 Comments:

Blogger Murray said...

Wow. Nog's Eve in Winnipeg? A tradition of six years now? How were we unaware of this??

I belong to the North Vancouver branch of the ever-growing Nog's Eve tree. I can fill in many of the gaps in your Nog's Eve history if you'd like. Feel free to e-mail me at murray (at) topsecretlabs (dot) com.

9:26 pm  
Blogger Tony Tanti said...

A truly wonderful tradition. Kudos to you for carrying it on. You've inspired my to revive this tradition in my own life.

I'm honoured to be mentioned in this great article about the history of Nog's Eve and I tip my hat to all participants.

5:03 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not is coming again soon vivre la nog

12:50 am  
Anonymous Brock said...

It's only August and already I can't wait for the nog.

12:47 am  

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