Monday, March 7, 2016

New England - The Great Snow of 1717

The Great Snow of 1717 was a series of snowstorms between February 27 & March 7, 1717 (Gregorian calendar) that blanketed the British American colonies of New York & New England with 5 or more feet (1.5 or more meters) of snow, & much higher drifts.

March 7, 1717 diary entry of Massachusetts Rev. Cotton Mather: "Never such a Snow, in the Memory of Man! And so much falling this Day, as well as fallen two Dayes ago, that very many, of our Assemblies had no Sacrifices."

During this storm, many New Englanders could only leave their houses from the leeward side windows…on the second floor.  While Boston only received about 40 inches of snow, many places got 8+ feet during the 10 day period. 

The Great Snow of 1717

The damage was catastrophic. As many as 95% of New England's deer population died from starvation & predators.  They got stuck in the snow becoming easy prey for wolves, which were light enough to get through the snow.  The snow was so high, that the tops of many trees were covered, allowing small animals to graze in the upper branches of orchard crops, harming many of the fruit trees.  Flocks of heavier sheep & cattle were smothered or starved to death. A widow & her 3 children, in a small house in Medford, Massachusetts, were dug out by neighbors several days after the storm, after they spied her chimney smoke "issuing from a snowbank."  The post roads were lost beneath the snowpack well into March.

LENT - Preparing for the Empty Tomb - Illuminated Manuscripts

Religious depictions comprised a large part the core of early Western art.  In the 4C, as the Christian population was rapidly growing & was now supported by the state, Christian art evolved & became grander to suit new, enlarged public spaces & the contemporary tastes of elite private clients.

British Library - Harley 4328 fol-410 The Empty Tomb Resurrection

Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.  And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.  And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?  And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.  And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were afraid.  And he saith unto them, Be not afraid: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is arisen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.  But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.  Mark Chapter 16

The Teutonic word Lent, used to denote the 40 days preceding Easter, originally meant no more than the spring season. During the first 3 centuries after the Resurrection of Christ, there was considerable diversity of practice regarding a fast before Easter and also a gradual process of development in the matter of its duration. An early reference is quoted by Eusebius (Church History V.24) from a letter of St. Irenaeus to Pope Victor in connection with Easter. There Irenaeus says that there is not only a controversy about the time of keeping Easter but also regarding the preliminary fast. He continues, "For some think they ought to fast for one day, others for two days, and others even for several, while others reckon forty hours both of day and night to their fast." He also urges that this variety of usage is of ancient date, which implies that there was no Apostolic tradition on the subject.