Sunday, January 1, 2017

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Melozzo da Forli (Italian Renaissance artist, 1438-1494) Angel from the Vault of the Sacristy of Saint Mark  January 29, 2011. "Without Melozzo, the work of Raphael and Michelangelo would have never existed.” This statement by Antonio Paolucci, director of the Vatican Museums, sums up the impact this renaissance painter had on some of the greatest Italian painters.

January 1810

1810 January London W. Belch

January 1790s

Reverse Glass Painting

January 1767

1767 January. Printed for Robert Sayer, London.

January 1749

1749 January print John June (Print made by) D Voisin London

January 1745

1745 January. Thomas Burford (British artist, 1710-1770)

January 1700s

January.Jacob van Huysum (1686-1740) Twelve Months of Flowers

January 1580

1580 January. The Twelve Months January after Hans Bol

January 1500s

Anonymous woodcut after √Čtienne Delaune (French artist, 1518-1595) Labours of the Months 1 January

January 1580

1580 January Italian School The Labours of the Months

January 1515

1515 Da Costa Hours, in Latin Illuminated by Simon Bening (1484–1561) Belgium, Bruges, Dinner Scene

Holiday Feasting - The History of "Humble Pie"

Baking; France c. 1475 codex 1056.

In the 14C, the numbles (or noumbles, nomblys, noubles) referred to the heart, liver, entrails etc. of animals, especially of deer – what we now call offal. The word numbles became "umble," and it was often used to refer to the pie of lesser value than the pie with the more costly meat. Therefore, the poor would often eat "umble" pie. Nowadays, if you have taken a tumble in life and have to live a standard of life you would not usually be used to, it is said that you are having to eating "humble pie."

1675: Meatless Mince Pies.
From: The Accomplish'd Lady's Delight In Preserving, Physick, Beautifying, and Cookery, Hannah Woolley; 1675
To make an Egg-Pye, or Mince-Pye of Eggs.
Take the Yolks of two dozen of Eggs hard boyled, shred them, take the same quantity of Beef-Suet, half a pound of Pippins, a pound of Currans well washt, and dry'd, half a pound of Sugar, a penny-worth of beaten Spice, a few Carraway-Seeds, a little Candyed Orange-peel shred, a little Verjuice and Rosewater; fill the Coffin, and bake it with gentle heat.

1750: Mince Pye, Costly or Stinking varieties.
From: The Country Housewife’s Companion; William Ellis, 1750.
To make a Mince-Pye 
How a poor Woman makes palatable Mince-Pyes of stinking Meat.
This is a poor industrious woman that rents a little tenement by me of twenty shillings a year, who for the sake of her poverty is every week relieved, with many others, by the most noble lord of Gaddesden Manour; who killing a bullock almost every week for his very large family, he has the offald meat dressed, and is so good as to have it given away to the poorest people in the neighbourhood. But it sometimes happens, through the negligence of careless servants, that this charitable meat is apt to stink in hot weather, for want of its due cleaning, boiling, and laying it in a cool place: However, the poor are very glad of this dole, as it does their families considerable service. And to recover such tainted meat, this woman, after boiling and cleansing it well, chops and minces it very small, and when mixed with some pepper, salt, chop'd sage, thyme and onion, she bakes it: This for a savoury pye. At another time she makes a sweet pye of this flesh, by mixing a few currants and plumbs with it. But in either form the taint is so lessened that it is hardly to be perceived.

See Dance's Historical Miscellany

Holiday Feasting - Mince Meat Pies

Ulrich von Richental’s 15C The Chronicle of the Council of Constance

1588: Minst Pyes, with rosewater.
From: The good hous-wiues treasurie Beeing a verye necessarie booke instructing to the dressing of meates; Anon. 1588
To make minst Pyes.
Take your Veale and perboyle it a little, or mutton, then set it a cooling; and when it is colde, take three pound of suit [suet] to a leg of mutton, or fower [four] pound to a fillet of Veale, and then mince them small by themselves, or together whether you will, then take to season them halfe an once [ounce] of Nutmegs, half an once of cloves and Mace, halfe an once of Sinamon, a little Pepper, as much Salt as you think will season them, either to the mutton or to the Veale, take viii [8] yolkes of Egges when they be hard, half a pinte of rosewater full measure, halfe an pund of Suger, then straine the Yolkes with the rosewayer and the Suger and mingle it with your meate, if ye have any Orenges or Lemmans you must take two of them, and take the pilles [peels] very thin and mince them very smalle, and put them in a pound of currans, six dates, half a pound of prunes laye Currans and Dates upon the top of your meate, you must taek tow or three Pomewaters or Wardens and mince with your meate, you maye make them woorsse if you will, if you will make good crust put in three or foure yolkes of egges a litle Rosewater, and a good deale of suger.


Vincento Campi. c1580 Making Pies in "The Kitchen"

1615: Gervase Markham's Minc't Pie
Gervase Markham The English Housewife, (London: 1615)
Take a Legge of Mutton, and cut the best of the flesh from the bone, and parboyl it well then put to it three pound of the best Mutton suet & shred it very small; then spread it abroad, and fashion it with Salt Cloves and Mace: then put in good store of Currants, great Raisins and Prunes clean washed and picked a few Dates sliced, and some Orenge-pils sliced ; then being all well mixt together, put it into a coffin, or into divers coffins, and so bake them and when they are served up, open the lids and strow store of Sugar on the top of the meat and upon the lid. And in this sort you may also bake Beef or Veal, onely the Beef would not be parboyld, and the Veal will ask a double quantity of Suet.


The Pie Maker. a fresco, Italian School, at Castello di Issogne in Aosta, Italy

1660: Mince Pies, French and Italian Fashion.
From: The Accomplisht Cook, by Robert May.
Minced in the French fashion, called Pelipate, or in English Petits, made of Veal, Pork, or Lamb, or any kind of Venison, Beef, Poultrey, or Fowl.
Mince them with lard, and being minced, season them with salt, and a little nutmeg, mix the meat with some pine-apple-seed, and a few grapes or gooseberries; fill the pies and bake them, being baked liquor them with a little gravy.
Sometimes for variety in the Winter time, you may use currans instead of grapes or gooseberries, and yolks of hard eggs minced among the meat.
Minced Pies in the Italian Fashion.
Parboil a leg of veal, and being cold mince it with beef-suet, and season it with pepper, salt, and gooseberries; mix with it a little verjuyce, currans, sugar, and a little saffron in powder.


Pieter Claesz van Haarlem's (1597-1660), Detail Still Life with Meat Pie, 1627, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

From the late 16C onwards, mince pies were increasingly frowned upon in English Puritan circles, along with other traditional Christmas celebrations. Many Puritans thought that mince pies were self-indulgent and reminiscent of Catholic superstitions and come the Interregnum when the "godly" were in power from 1649-1660, there were many attempts to stamp out such decadent Christmas traditions. The restoration of the monarchy in 1660 curbed Puritan influence but didn’t lessen their dissaproval. An essay in the December 1733 issue of The Gentleman’s Magazine  describes how Quakers supposedly inveighed against “Christmas Pye, as an Invention of the Scarlet Whore of Babylon, an Hodge-Podge of Superstition, Popery, the Devil and all his works.”

1675: Meatless Mince Pies.
From: The Accomplish'd Lady's Delight In Preserving, Physick, Beautifying, and Cookery, Hannah Woolley; 1675
To make an Egg-Pye, or Mince-Pye of Eggs.
Take the Yolks of two dozen of Eggs hard boyled, shred them, take the same quantity of Beef-Suet, half a pound of Pippins, a pound of Currans well washt, and dry'd, half a pound of Sugar, a penny-worth of beaten Spice, a few Carraway-Seeds, a little Candyed Orange-peel shred, a little Verjuice and Rosewater; fill the Coffin, and bake it with gentle heat.


Shapes for pies from T. Hall, The Queen's Royal Cookery (London 1713). Mince pies on the salver.

For diarist Samuel Pepys, mince pies were a firm Christmas fixture. Although his Christmas dinner in 1662 was generous, consisting of “a mess of brave plum-porridge and a roasted pullet”, he felt that it wasn’t complete without mince pies. Unfortunately his wife was “not well [enough] to make any herself” so, he “sent for a mince pie abroad.” At Christmas 1663, his wife was feeling better and he was pleased to see, on coming home very cold from a long day at work, that she was busy making mince pies. In December 1666, Mrs Pepys was once again slogging away in the kitchen. Pepys’s entry for the 25th December reads “Lay pretty long in bed, and then rose, leaving my wife desirous of sleep, having sat up till four this morning seeing her mayds make mince pies.”

Hannah Glasse, The Art of Cookery, made Plain and Easy, 2nd edition, 1747 By the 18C in England, mince pies were getting sweeter, due in large part to the increasing availability of cheap sugar from West Indian slave plantations. Although meat was still usual, it was no longer essential. In her 1747 edition, Glasse writes “if you chuse meat in your pies, parboil a neat’s tongue [ox tongue], peel it, and chop the meat as fine as possible, and mix it with the rest; or two pounds of the inside of a sirloin of beef boiled.”


Adriaen van Utrecht (1599–1652) Detail of a meat pie

1750: Mince Pye
From: The Country Housewife’s Companion; William Ellis, 1750.
To make a Mince-Pye costly and rich.
To one pound of the meat of a tongue, add two pounds of suet, six pippins, and a green lemon-peel shred small, with an ounce of Jamaica pepper, two pounds of currants, citron, lemon, and orange peels, candy'd and shred small. Mix all these with half a pint of sack, and fll your pye with it. And to make this richer still, add two spoonfuls of lemon juice or verjuice, stoned and sliced dates, with some chop'd raisins. - Another says: take an ox heart, or tongue, or meat of a surloin of beef, parboil it, and chop it with two pounds of suet to every pound of lean meat; this mix with a two-penny grated loaf and eight pippins minced fine. It makes excellent pyes, if spice, sack, and orange-peel are added, with two pounds of currants to every pound of meat. Also that this composition may be kept in an earthen pot in a dry place a month or more good, and to make the pyes eat moist, as soon as they are out of the oven, put in a glass of brandy or white-wine.--Another says, that savoury mince-pyes are best made with equal parts of mutton and veal, and other proper ingredients.--Another says, that double tripe boiled tender and minced small, with currants, sugar, and other materials, makes good mince-pyes.--Another, to make mince-pyes without flesh, says: Boil a dozen or more of eggs hard, then boil also a pound of rice very soft; mince the eggs, and beat the rice to a pap: Mix these with beef suet shred, currants, raisins, sugar, nutmeg, candy'd orange-peel, and put the whole into a pye with sack, and bake it in an oven moderately heated.

For clever glimpses into English mince pie history & much more, see Caecilia Dance

Holiday Feasting - Food & Drink at 18C & 19C US New Year's gatherings

Menus for 18C & 19C American New Year's gatherings from Foodtimeline here

1774 John Adams recorded in his diary on several occasions enjoying the turtle on the dinner table, while visiting Philadelphia for the First Continental Congress. 1774 Septr. 11. "Dined at Mr. Willings, who is a Judge of the Supream Court here, with the Gentlemen from Virginia, Maryland and New York. A most splendid Feast again—Turtle and every Thing else."

Sea Turtles were available in both the Atlantic & Pacific


In 1768, John Hancock was buying sea turtles to serve at his table.



Colonial America


Recipes for preparing sea turtle.  1774 edition of Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy. The recipe 1st appeared in the 1751 edition of this book.

Colonial & Early American cookbooks do not contain suggested complete menus or "bills of fare" for New Year's celebrations. What we know about these gatherings is gleaned from primary sources such as journals, letters, household accounts, & newspaper articles.


1797 Newspaper Advertisement of Mr Julien of Boston

"The custom of paying New Year's calls originated in New York, where the Dutch held open house on New Year's Day & served cherry bounce, olykoeks [doughnuts] steeped in rum, cookies, & honey cakes. From New York the custom spread throughout the country. On the first New Year's after his inauguration, George Washington opened his house to the public, & he continued to receive visitors on New Year's Day throughout the seven years he lived in Phildadelphia. On January 1, 1791, a senator from Pennsylvania hoted in his diary: "Made the President the compliments of the season; had a hearty shake of the hand. I was asked to partake of punch & cakes, but declined...Eventually, it became de rigeur [common social practice] for those who intended to receive company to list in newspapers the hours they would be "at home." It was a disastrous practice: parties of young men took to dashing from house to house for a glass of punch, dropping in at as many of the homes listed in the papers as they could. Strangers wandered in off the streets, newspapers under their arms, for a free drink & a bit of a meal. The custom of having an open house on the first day of the year survived the assaults of the newspaper readers. The traditional cookies & cakes continued to be served, along with hot toddies, punches, eggnogs, tea, coffee, & chocolate. But public announcements of at-home hours were dropped at the end of the nineteenth century, & houses were open only to invited friends."
---American Heritage Cookbook & Illustrated History of American Eating & Drinking, American Heritage:New York] 1964 (p. 392)

[Maryland]
"New Year's Day Collation at Mount Clare: Crab Imperial, Oyster loaves, Boned Turkey Breast with Forcemeat & Oyster Sauce, Fried Chicken, Maryland Ham, Fruits in White Wine Jelly, Beaten Biscuits, Sally Lunn, Apricot Fool, Minced Pies, Pound Cake, Light Fruit Cake, Maryland Rocks, Little Sugar Cakes, Coconut Jumbles, Peach Cordial, Syllabub, Egg Nog, Sangaree."
---The Thirteen Colonies Cookbook, Mary Donovan et al [Montclair Historical Society:Montclair NJ] 1976 (p. 176)

[New York]
"New Year's Eve was especially noisy, with the firing of guns to bring in the New Year. Ordinances in both the Netherlands & New Netherland eventually prohibited such behavior. The special treat for New Year's Day in the Netherlands was nieuwjaarskoeken (thick crisp waters), which originated in the eastern part of the country & adjoining parts of Germany. These wafers were made in a special wafer iron. The oblong or round long-handleed irons, made by blacksmiths, created imprints of a religious or secular nature on the wafers. Wafer irons were often given as a wedding gift, even in this country. Enormous quantities of wafers were prepared on New Year's Day. The were consumed by family, servants, & guests distributed to children, who went from house to house singing New Year songs, while collecting their share of treats along the way. There is ample evidence in diaries & letters that Dutch Americans continued the custom of visiting each other on New Year's Day. In New Netherland...the nieuwjaarskoeken were molded in wooden cake-boards, instead of wafer irons...The American New Year's cake is a combination of two Dutch pastries brought here by the early settlers, the nieuwjaarskoeken described above & spiced, chewy, honey cakes formed in a wooden mold or cake-board. It was in the late eighteenth century that this homemade pastry prepared in heirloom wafer irons by the Dutch, changed to a mostly store-bought product purchased by the population at large."
---Matters of Taste: Food & Drink in Seventeenth-Century Dutch Art & Life, Donna R. Barnes & Peter G. Rose [Syracuse University Press:Syracuse NY] 2002 (p. 24-5)



1832 Frances Anne Kemble, a well-known British actress & author who came to the States accompanied by her father in 1832, was apparently none too fond of holiday turtles & oysters. She mentions specifically the terrapin, a local substitute for the green sea turtle. Francis wrote in her diary in December 1832: “Came home, and supped. I had eaten nothing since four o’clock, and was famished; for I do not like stewed oysters and terrapins, which are the refreshments invariably handed round at an American evening party.” 

1847
"In New York City, where it is the custom for ladies to remain at home to recieve the calls of their gentlemen friends, there is not time nor occasion for dinners; should it be desirable, it would be similar to that for Christmas, or instead--a cold roasted turkey, (bone it if you can) cold boiled ham or tongue, a large glass salad-bowl of pickled oysters, or an oyster pie with dressed celery or a chicken salad, with jelly puffs & tarts & small mince pies, blancmange, de russe & jellies & ice cream & fancy cakes, with syrup water & orgeat or lemonade for temperance, or wines & punch. The manner of celebrating New Year's day by calls, is a peculiarity of our own, & having so few which are 'native here,' many of our wisest & best, have wished that this might in no wise be slighted. Many a feud-divided family have been united, & misunderstanding friends been brought together, under the all-pervading hospitality & genial influence which distinguishes the day."
---The American System of Cookery, Mrs. T. J. Crowen [T.J. Crowen:New York] 1847 (p. 405)



St. Nicholas Restaurant,  Cincinnati, Ohio

1880
"New Year's Dinners.--Raw oysters; mock tutle soup; boiled turkey with oyster sauce; roast haunch of venison; currant jelly; devilied crabs; potato souffle, baked turnips, stuffed cabbage, beets, lima beans, dried corn, & canned pease; biscuit, French rolls, rye & Indian bread; chicken salad, cold sliced ham; celery, cold slaw garnished with fried oysters, pickled walnuts, variety pickles; sweet pickled cucumbers, peaches, & plums, spiced currants & gooseberries canned pears or strawberries; English plum pudding; chess pie, potato pie, mince pie; orange souffle, pyramid pound cake, black cake, Phil Sheridan cake; Bohemian cream; oranges, raisins, figs, nuts; tea, coffeee, chocolate.
New Year's Table.--When receiving calls on New Years' Day, the table should be handsomely arranged & decorated, & provided with rather substantial dishes, such as would suit the taste of gentlemen. Too great profusion, especially of cakes, confectonery, & ices, is out of taste. Selections may be made from the following: Escaloped oysters; cold tongue, turkey, chicken, & ham, pressed meats, boned turkey, jellied chicken; salads, cold slaw garnished with fried oysters; bottled pickles, French or Spanish pickles; jellies; charlotte-russe, ice-creams, ices; two large handsome cakes for decoration of table, & one or two baskets of miced cake, fruit, layer, & sponge cake predonimating; fruits; nuts; coffee, chocolate with whipped cream, lemonade."
---Buckeye Cookery & Practical Housekeeping, revised & enlarged [Buckeye Publishing Co.:Minneapolis MN] 1880 (p. 351)

1886
"A general & cordial reception of gentlemen guests upon the first day of the year, by the ladies of almost every household, also by clergymen, & by gentlemen upon the first New-Year's Day after marriage, is a Knickerbocker custom which prevailed in New York, with scarce any innovations, until within the last ten years. It was once a day when all gentlemen offered congratulations to each of their lady acquaintences, & even employes of a gentleman were permitted to pay their respects, & to eat & drink with the ladies of the household. Hospitalities were then lavishly offered & as lavishly received. This custom began when the city was small, but it has now quite outgrown those possibilities which the original usages of the day could compass without difficulty. Beside, there came a time when this excessive social freedom was proportionate to our over-large liberties, therefore, our hospitalities were narrowed down to a lady's own circle of acquaintences. Even this boundary in many instances widened to so extended a circumference that not a few of our kindliest & most hospitable of ladies have been compelled either to close their doors upon this day of hand-shaking, eating, & drinking, or else to issue cards of welcome to as many of their gentlemen acquaintences as they can entertain in a single day. Not many ladies in New York are, however, placed upon such heights of popularity as to make this limitation a genuine necessity, & others may choose to receive congratulations upon New-Year's-Day only from relatives & intimate friends...ladies who recieve in a general way whoever choose to call upon them are now almost certain that the old-time crowds which thronged all open doors a decade ago will no longer intrude upon those from who they are uncertain even of a recognition...to be considered a man of to-day, he must be well-bred & unobtrusive, even during this gala season... Those who entertain elaborately upon New-Year's-Day sometimes send out cards of invitation...They are handsomely engraved... Many gentlemen, even among those who take wine ordinarily, refuse it upon this day, because they do not like to accept it at the hand of one lady & refuse it from that of another. Again, many ladies, from whose daily tables the glitter of wine-glasses is never absent, do not supply this drink to their guests upon this day, because it is dangerous for their acquaintences to partake of varied vintages, the more specially while passing in & out of over-heated drawing rooms. Delicacies, coffee, chocolate, tea, & bouillon, are supplied in their places, whether the wines be withheld by kindly considerateness, or through conscientious scruples."
---Social Etiquette in New York, Abby Buchanan Longstreet, facsimile 1886 new & enlarged edition [Eastern National: Fort Washington PA] 2002 (p. 187-196)

1886
"When refreshments are provided for callers on this day, the tastes of gentlemen only are to be consulted, & it is understood that they prefer rather substantial dishes. Handsome decorations for the table are desirable. Hot coffee is a prime requisite. Sandwiches, salads, pickles, jellies, & three or four kinds of cold meats may be provided. Escaloped oysters are relishable. Two or three ornamented cakes for decoration, & one or two baskets of mixed cake, will be needed, & such fresh fruits as can be obtained, including bananas, oranges, & white grapes. Wine is no longer found upon the New Year's table in this latitude."
---Kansas Home Cook-Book consisting of recipes contributed by ladies of Leavenworth & other cities & towns, compiled by Mrs. C.H. Cushing & Mrs. B. Gray, facsimile 1886 edition [Creative Cookbooks:Monterey CA] 2001 (p. 39)

1890
"Dinner: Mock Turtle Soup, Panned Guinea Fowls, Broiled Bacon, Potato Puff, Stewed Tomatoes, Corn, Mayonnaise of Celery, Wafers, Cheese, Marlborough Pudding Coffee."
---"New Menus For January," Mrs. S.T. Rorer, Table Talk (magazine), January 1890 (p. 4)

1896
"Menu for New Year's Day.
Breakfast. Milk porridge, Hominy & meat croquettes, Apple johnnycake, Apricot & fig sauce, Coffee.
Dinner. Clear soup, Bread sticks, Stuffed whitefish-creamed oyster sauce, Roast venison, Currant jelly sauce, Ringed potatoes, Onion ormoloe, Walnut & watercress salad, French dressing, Cheese 'fingers,' Celery, Timbales with preserved strawberries, Hot clear sauce, Ice pudding, Glace chestnuts, Pralines, Raisins or dates (creamed), Coffee.
Late Luncheon; Sliced venison with mustard, Bread ad butter, Sponge cake, Oranges, Tea."
--The Daily News Cook Book [Chicago Daily News Co.:Chicago IL] 1896 (p. 5)
[NOTE: According to this book, Onion ormoloe is Onion Pie. Recipe appears on pps. 144-145.]

1898
"Good resolutions & good cooking will go a great way toward lessening the miseries of this of this nation of dyspeptics. New Year's Day is a good time to make the good resolution & eat the good dinner, provided the financial standing of the dinner is equal to it or his credit is good. For one day in the year the quick lunch establishment ought to be left tight closed. If we can't enjoy a good dinner on New Year's Day, then our lot is indeed a sad one...
Oysters on Half Shell, Crean of Tapioca, Pontange Patties, Celery, Olives, Radishes, Smelts Sauteed in Brown Butter, Cucumber Salad, Lamb Chops in Papers, New Spinach, Potato Rissoles, Roast Turkey Stuffed with Chestnuts, Romaine Salad, Mince Pie, Brown Bread, Ice Cream, Coffee.
Mock Turtle Soup, Boiled Striped Bass, Hollandaise Sauce, Cucumbers, Saddle of Venison, Port Wine Sauce, Currant Jelly, Braised Celery, Sweetbreads, Mushroom Sauce, Roast Turkey Stuffed, Cranberry Sauce, Mashed Potaotes, Boiled Onions, Turnips, Beets, Squash, Pumpkin Pie, Mince Pie,, Plum Pudding, Cake, Sage cheeses, Coffee."
---"Good Resolutions & Dinner," Washington Post, December 25, 1898 (p. 16)

The British American Colonies adjust to celebrating New Year in January

King Henry 8th (1491-1547)

In England, Henry VIII had broken with Rome, creating the Church of England, only about 50 years before Pope Gregory XIII's 1582 introduction of the new calendar. So the English weren't inclined to follow the Roman Pope's lead in the transition to the Gregorian calendar. By the mid-18C, however, it became apparent, that England & her colonies could avoid the transition no longer.  
On August 16, 1751, The Virginia Gazette contained an announcement from London for the colonists in America, about The Calendar (New Style) Act 1750. It reformed the calendar of England and British Dominions so that the new legal year began on 1 January rather than 25 March (Lady Day); & it adopted the Gregorian calendar, as already used in most of western Europe.  


But the change was not an instant success.  It had been pushed through Parliament by Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield (1694-1773) Portrait by English artist Allan Ramsay. Chesterfield, who was behind the Act, wrote to his son, "Every numerous assembly is a mob, let the individuals who compose it be what they will. Mere sense is never to be talked to a mob; their passions, their sentiments, their senses and their seeming interests alone are to be applied to. Understanding have they collectively none." Here, he was boasting of his skill in having the complicated & potentially unpopular Bill passed through the Lords; the "mob" in question was his fellow peers.

There was some dissatisfaction with the adoption of the Gregorian calendar in Great Britain.  This is William Hogarth's painting from around 1755, which is one of the main visual sources depicting some disaffection with the adoption of the Gregorian calendar in 1752.

The South Carolina Gazette reprinted the bill, which had passed, with its justifications on January 1, 1752.

As this Day commences the Year of our Lord 1752. before the Conclusion of which we are, by a late Act of Parliament of Great Britain, required to use the New or Gregorian Stile, instead of the Old or Julian ; we believe it will not be thought improper at this Time, to give our Readers the said Act at length: It is therefore herewith presented them, with the Compliments of the Season.——In our next, we shall give some Account of the Changes the Year hath heretofore undergone, and the Reason of them.


An Act for regulating the Commencement of the YEAR; and for correcting the CALENDAR now in USE.


WHEREAS the legal supputation of the year of our Lord is that part of Great Britain called England, according to which the year beginneth on the 25th of March, hath been found by experience to be attended with divers inconveniences, not only as it differs from the usage of neighbouring nations, but also from the legal method of computation in that part of Great Britain called Scotland, and from the common usage throughout the whole kingdom, whereby frequent mistakes are occasioned in the dates of deeds, and other writings, and disputes arise therefrom:


And whereas the calendar now in use throughout all his majesty's British dominions, commonly called The Julian Calendar, hath been discovered to be erroneous, by means whereof the vernal or spring equinox, which at the time of the general council of Nice, in the year of our Lord 325, happened on or about the 21st day of March, now happens on the ninth or tenth day of the same month; and the said error is still encreasing, and if not remedied, would, in pros of time, occasion the several equinoxes and solstices to fall at very different times in the civil year from what they formerly did, which might tend to mislead persons ignorant of the said alteration.


And whereas a method of correcting the calendar in such manner, as the equinoxes and solces may for the future fall nearly on the same nominal days, on which the same happened at the time of the said general council, hath been received and established, and is now is generally practised by almost all other nations of Europe :


And whereas it will be of general convenience to merchants, and other persons corresponding with their nations, and countries, and tend to prevent mistakes and disputes in or concerning the dates of letters, and accounts, if the like correction be received and established in is majesty's dominions;


May it therefore please year MAJESTY,


That it may be Enacted; And be it Enacted ; by the KING'S most excellent majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the lords spiritual and temporal, and commons, in this present parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, that in throughout all his majesty's dominions and countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, and America, belonging or subject to the crown of Great Britain, the said supputation, according to which the year of our Lord beginneth on the 25th day of March, shall not be made use of from and after the last day of December, 1751; and that the first day of January, next following the said last day of December, shall be reckoned, taken deemed, and accounted, to be the first day of the year of our Lord 1752; and the first day of January, which shall happen next after the said first day of January, 1752, shall be reckoned, taken, deemed, and accounted, to be the first day of the year of our Lord, 1753; and so on from time to time; the first day of January in every year, which shall happen in time to come, shall be reckoned, taken, deemed, and accounted, to be the first day of the year; and that each new year shall accordingly commence, and begin to be reckoned, from the first-day of every such month of January next preceding the 25th day of March, on which such year would, according to the present, supputation, have begun or commenced. And that from and after the said first day of January, 1752...


Celebrating the January New Year, The Virginia Gazette printed on December 29, 1752, nearly a year after the act was adopted, published the following poem.


An ODE, for the fist of January.

THIS Earth, the Sun, and yonder Stars of Light,
That rose from Chaos and eternal Night,
Obsequious to their great Creator's Will
Revolve, and all their various Ends fulfil:
But Men, tho' bless'd with Reason's brighter Ray,
Eccentrick wander, and like Comets stray.
This sad'ning Truth the circling Years declare,
Sees Mankind unreform'd, sees Mercy spare,
With the revolving Year reform thy Plan,
And, tho' the older, be the better Man.
Lost are those Years which Vanity and Vice
Have murdered: Late, Oh late, correct thy Choice.
Accept, Kind Heav'n, my Prayer; behold my Tears,
These, these, the bitter Fruits my Folly bears.
Hence 'mongst thy faithful Sons I'll rank my Name,
And with this New-Year' s Morn thy Love proclaim:
Thy Love! a Theme too big for Time and Earth;
Eternity's the Day must give it Birth.

Thus onward lead me, 'til my latest Breath

Shall gently fold me in thy Arms, O Death!
Then bear me, bear me to the Realms above,
Where reigns my Saviour, reigns eternal Love:
Then roll, ye sluggish Years; speed, no Delay;
Fly Time, and hasten on that glorious Day.


George Washington (1732-1799) in 1772

As the calendars changed in the British American colonies, there was some overlap.  George Washington, for example, was born on February 11, 1731 under the Julian Calendar, but afterwards recognized the date February 22, 1732 to reflect the Gregorian Calendar. Today, we use the Gregorian Calendar to determine George Washington’s birthday, which took place in Westmoreland County, Virginia on February 22, 1732. But at the time of his birth the Julian Calendar was in effect, and the 1st day of the year was March 25th, not January 1st, so he was born February 22, 1731. 


His mother, Mary Ball Washington, lived her entire life convinced that her son was born on February 22, 1731. She did live to see her son’s inauguration as President of the United States in April 1789, but she died later that year. Mary Ball Washington was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1787, but after 2 years Dr. Benjamin Rush assessed that there was no hope whatsoever. "It is not in my power to suggest a cure for the disorder you have found in her breast," he told her family. Her daughter Betty wrote to George Washington before her death in 1789, “I am sorry to inform you my mother’s breast still continues bad. God only knows how it will end ... she is sensible of it and perfectly resigned — wishes for nothing more than to keep it easy.” 

Mary Ball Washington (1708-1789) painted from life, by Robert Edge Pine in 1786

Certain religious groups in early America apparently adopted the Gregorian Calendar before 1752, even in British controlled territory, these include Reformed, Palatine, or Lutheran Church records in German settlements in early America. For example, the Protestant Palatine Germans had adopted the Gregorian Calendar in 1700, well before their migration to America.


Dutch settlers along the Hudson River in New York & northern New Jersey were already using the Gregorian Calendar, when they first came to America in the 1620s. After 1660, when the English took over the Dutch colonies, the Dutch people were allowed to stay & keep their way of life. Civil & church recorders of the Dutch towns continued the use of the Gregorian Calendar, even though the British governed their settlements & had not adopted the Gregorian Calendar yet. Since most of Holland had been using the new Calendar since 1583, it had become their standard for calendar dating long before they came to America.


The English Quakers who migrated to the Delaware Valley from about 1675 to 1725, left good indications of the Julian Calendar in their meeting records. In keeping with the Quaker’s desire to divest themselves of any practice of the Church of England, they did not like to use the names of the months (of which some were named after pagan gods by the Romans). So the Quakers standardized their own way of expressing a month, as the 1st month, 2nd month, 3rd month, & so on.

Great Britain (& her colonies) was one of the later European countries to adopt the Gregorian calendar change, which had been in place in parts of Europe for 170 years. The last 2 European countries to adopt the Gregorian Calendar were Russia in 1918 & Greece in 1923.

Calendars were changing & New Year's day was celebrated in March in the Early American colonies until 1752

Civilizations around the world seem to have been celebrating the start of each New Year for at least 4.000 years.The problem was that the day celebrated as New Year was changing as each new calendar was adopted. Today, most New Year’s festivities begin on December 31 (New Year’s Eve), the last day of the Gregorian calendar & continue into the early hours of January 1 - New Year’s Day. 


Humbling the king

The earliest recorded festivities in honor of a New Year’s arrival date back some 4,000 years to ancient Babylon. For the Babylonians, the 1st new moon following the vernal equinox—the day in late March with an equal amount of sunlight & darkness—heralded the start of a New Year. They marked the occasion with a religious festival called Akitu (derived from the Sumerian word for barley, which was cut in the spring) that involved a different ritual on each of its 11 days. The Akitu festival was one of the oldest Mesopotamian festivals. 

In addition to the New Year, Atiku celebrated the mythical victory of the Babylonian sky god Marduk over the evil sea goddess Tiamat & served an important political purpose: It was during this time that a new king was crowned or that the current ruler’s divine mandate was symbolically renewed. During this 12 day ceremonial event, which began at the first New Moon after the Spring Equinox in March/April, that a tradition took place in order to humble the king & remind him of his role to serve the will of the god Marduk in order to properly provide for the community. The head priest would strip the king of his regalia & vigorously slap him in the face. The Babylonians believed that if the king teared up, the god Marduk approved him to be king for another year.


Marduk of the City of Babylon. God of the sun & chief of all gods.

The celebration of the New Year on January 1st is a relatively new phenomenon. Throughout antiquity, civilizations around the world developed increasingly sophisticated calendars, typically pinning the 1st day of the year to an agricultural or astronomical event. In Egypt, for instance, the year began with the annual flooding of the Nile, which coincided with the rising of the star Sirius. The 1st day of the Chinese New Year, meanwhile, occurred with the second new moon after the winter solstice.One of the earliest recording of a New Year celebration is believed to have been in Mesopotamia, c. 2000 B.C. & was celebrated around the time of the vernal equinox, in mid-March. A variety of other dates tied to the seasons were also used by various ancient cultures. The Egyptians, Phoenicians, & Persians began their New Year with the fall equinox, & the Greeks celebrated it on the winter solstice.

The early Roman calendar designated March 1 as the New Year. The calendar had just 10 months, beginning with March. That the New Year once began with the month of March is still reflected in some of the names of the months. September through December, our ninth through twelfth months, were originally positioned as the seventh through tenth months (septem is Latin for "seven," octo is "eight," novem is "nine," & decem is "ten."

The 1st time the New Year was celebrated on January 1st was in Rome in 153 B.C. (In fact, the month of January did not even exist until around 700 B.C., when the 2nd king of Rome, Numa Pontilius, added the months of January & February.) The New Year was moved from March to January because that was the beginning of the civil year, the month that the two newly elected Roman consuls—the highest officials in the Roman republic—began their one-year tenure. But this New Year date was not always strictly & widely observed, & the New Year was still sometimes celebrated on March 1.

The early Roman calendar consisted of 10 months & 304 days, with each New Year beginning at the vernal equinox; according to tradition, it was created by Romulus, the founder of Rome, in the 8th century B.C. A later king, Numa Pompilius, is credited with adding the months of Januarius & Februarius. Over the centuries, the changing calendar fell out of sync with the sun, & in 46 B.C. the emperor Julius Caesar decided to solve the problem by consulting with the most prominent astronomers & mathematicians of his time. He introduced the Julian calendar, which closely resembles the more modern Gregorian calendar that most countries around the world use today. In order to realign the Roman calendar with the sun, Julius Caesar had to add 90 extra days to the year 46 B.C. when he introduced his new Julian calendar.  Julius Caesar introduced a new, solar-based calendar that was a vast improvement on the ancient Roman calendar, which was a lunar system that had become wildly inaccurate over the years. 

The Julian calendar decreed that the New Year would occur with January 1, & within the Roman world, January 1 became the consistently observed start of the New Year.  As part of his reform, Caesar instituted January 1 as the 1st day of the year, partly to honor the month’s namesake: Janus, the Roman god of beginnings, whose two faces allowed him to look back into the past & forward into the future. Romans celebrated by offering sacrifices to Janus, exchanging gifts with one another, decorating their homes with laurel branches & attending raucous parties. In medieval Europe, Christian leaders temporarily replaced January 1 as the 1st of the year with days carrying more religious significance, such as December 25 (the anniversary of Jesus’ birth) & March 25 (the Feast of the Annunciation); Pope Gregory XIII reestablished January 1 as New Year’s Day in 1582.

Though Pope Gregory’s papal bull reforming the calendar had no power beyond the Catholic Church, Catholic countries—including Spain, Portugal and Italy—swiftly adopted the new system for their civil affairs. European Protestants, however, largely rejected the change because of its ties to the papacy, fearing it was an attempt to silence their movement. It wasn’t until 1700, that Protestant Germany switched over, & England held out until 1752. Orthodox countries clung to the Julian calendar until even later.

Janus, the Roman god of beginnings, whose two faces allowed him to look back into the past & forward into the future. 

Romans generally would celebrate January 1st by offering sacrifices to Janus in the hope of gaining good fortune for the New Year, decorating their homes with laurel branches & attending raucous parties. This day was seen as setting the stage for the next 12 months, & it was common for friends & neighbors to make a positive start to the year by exchanging well wishes & gifts of figs & honey with one another.

As Christianity began to be celebrated by many in medieval Europe, however, the celebrations accompanying the New Year were considered pagan & unchristian-like, & in 567 the Council of Tours abolished January 1 as the beginning of the year. At various times & in various places throughout medieval Christian Europe, the New Year was celebrated on Dec. 25; March 1; March 25; & Easter.


The Annunciation by Leonardo da Vinci (1472–1475) Uffizi Gallery.

In 1582, the Gregorian calendar reform restored January 1 as New Year's day. Although most Catholic countries adopted the Gregorian calendar almost immediately, it was only gradually adopted among Protestant countries. The British did not adopt the reformed calendar until 1752. The Calendar (New Style) Act 1750 (c.23) was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain. It reformed the calendar of England, so that the new legal year began on 1 January rather than 25 March; and it adopted the Gregorian calendar, as already used in most of western Europe. Until then, the British Empire —including its early American colonies— still celebrated the New Year on March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation. The day was also known as Lady Day, because it celebrated the Virgin Mary. 

Morning Madonna

Unknown Master, Hungarian (active around 1520). Saint Anne with the Virgin and the Child

In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were a large part of 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 changing contemporary tastes of elite private clients.