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Hullabaloo


Friday, December 25, 2015

 
The father of our country was a partier. (And I don't mean a Tea partier)

by digby

This is a fun piece about George Washington and Christmas by Jon Avlon:

When young George was 8 years old in 1740, his home caught fire on Christmas Eve. As a soldier in the British army, Washington spent Christmas Eve of 1753 in a remote outpost known as Murdering Town getting in a skirmish with local Indians, followed by a gift-giving trip to a local “Indian Queen.”

The War for Independence brought highs and lows even on holy days. The low point was inevitably Christmas at Valley Forge, where many soldiers were near starvation and along with the meager mutton and cabbage, there was no whiskey or wine. The high point was the Christmas night where Washington caught snoring Hessians unaware as he crossed the Delaware River and attacked Trenton to turn the tide of the war.

But George Washington’s best Christmas was in 1783. Precisely 230 years ago today, he rode up to Mount Vernon to celebrate his first holiday at home after eight years of revolution. He had resigned his commission just days before and was determined to surprise his family with his presence. They, in turn, surprised him with a feast that would almost make King George III feel at home.

First, soak in this description of Christmas Pie, a traditional British dish that makes a Turducken seem modest. Heaped inside a sturdy crust were layers of meat—“a turkey, a goose, a fowl, a partridge and pigeon”—seasoned with nutmeg, cloves, mace, pepper and salt and slathered with four pounds of butter, all cooked together for at least four hours. Then there was Martha’s recipe for “great cake”—40 eggs, 4 pounds of butter, 4 pounds of powdered sugar, 5 pounds of fruit and a half pint of wine and brandy thrown in for good measure. Add in Washington’s extended family and a few select friends, at it was a welcome respite after nearly a decade on the run in more than 200 encampments.

Martha hoped that “from this moment [they] would grow old together, in solitude and tranquility.” That Christmas wish was not to be. But the intervening years were as close to a domestic idyll as Washington ever experienced.

Christmas in the young Republic was a different affair than we celebrate today. There was no Santa Claus and no Christmas tree—a custom brought later by German immigrants. Gift-giving was not the focus—instead it was all about the family feast—a time to socialize and give faith-filled thanks for the year ending and the new one about to begin.

Christmas Day was primarily a religious holiday, though Washington was at best an occasional churchgoer, despite concerted efforts by subsequent evangelists to literally paint him as far more devout than he was in life. Records show that he was more likely to attend the celebration of St. John the Evangelist at local Masonic lodges on the 27th of December each year than Christmas Day services, though he was a frequent parishioner at St. Paul’s Chapel in lower Manhattan after he was as president.

Don't tell the Tea Party's favorite right wing "historian" David Barton. He seems to think all the founders were priests or pastors.

Anyway, read on for more detail. They kept on with this for days ...


Happy Hollandaise everyone.