Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Candle Dipping 2019...but with a Historical Flavor

A few Octobers ago,  I asked my daughter if maybe she and a few of her friends might be interested in helping me dip candles to be used at an upcoming historic reenactment.  She replied enthusiastically in the positive,  and she and her friends had a fun time,  dipping candles...and then dipping leaves,  dipping hands,  and even dipping a rose.
The best part is that we did it in my backyard over the fire pit.
The following year I decided to do it again,  though this time with my own friends...friends who had never done this ancient craft before.  And there was my daughter,  ever the presenter,  teaching adults how to dip candles!
Oh! What fun!
And so the fall tradition continues on;  this year was the 4th year for my candle-dipping day.  Each time I've had at least one person join me that had never done it before,  and this year was no different.
Also,  last year we did not use all of the beeswax so I had plenty left over,  plus another pound I purchased and another Jackie brought over.
There were also the remnants of previously burned candles - the 
little stubs - and the dried drippings that I saved as well.
Before I began having these candle dipping gatherings,  we used to do this craft at Greenfield Village,  but unfortunately they stopped,  which I believe was a mistake,  for I saw continuous long lines of guests waiting their turn to dip on those special dates.  So,  I decided to do it on my own.  To be honest,  it's a bit more fun because not only do I get a goodly supply of candles  (each helper gets to take one with them),  but I can do it with friends in the comfort of my own yard!
The beeswax is melting.
Let's begin,  then,  with a bit of social history and thoughts on this art of candle dipping:
Most 18th and 19th century homes were as self-sufficient as they could be and those who lived in them did their best to produce as many things needful to life as they could,  and this did include candles.  As part of their domestic work,  women usually were the ones who carried the entire candle making process from start to finish,  though many times the children,  and even the men  (as opportunity arose),  would help out as well.

An interesting side note is how reenactors react during power outages;  our candles and oil lamps are generally more easily accessible than flashlights.  In fact,  many times I've used candle light to search for my flashlight or flashlight batteries.
Needless to say,  going to the bathroom becomes infinitely more interesting,  and can be a chore;  we are so used to high brightness that it's almost eerie without.
To head to the basement to get more paper towel?  Bring a candle with you.  Want to change into your night clothes?  Have that oil lamp setting near your dresser.  Need to get a drink of water from the kitchen?  Make sure to bring your light.
The funny thing is,  during these blackouts I still habitually reach for the light switch whenever I enter a darkened room.
You,  too?
Jenny is dipping her batch while Jackie and my wife await their turn.
But I found it to be amazing how many candles one can go through during an outage;  we do try to conserve,  as did the folks in days of old,  by only using one or two candles in whatever room we are in,  with the second light usually for  "traveling"  around the house.
One definite lesson I learned about candle comparisons:  the 12" long tapered candles I used to buy at the store burn nearly three times as fast as the 6"  to 7"  beeswax candles I dip myself.  One beeswax candle almost half that size can burn for five hours or more,  while the longer modern store-bought one lasts maybe two or three hours at most.
Some of our longer dipped candles
(photo taken by Jenny Weingartz)
This was confirmed by Tom Redd,  a Materials Analyst for the Foundation in Colonial Williamsburg:  “Let us imagine we have four candles,  and each one is about three-quarters of an inch in diameter and they are all about 10 inches long.  They are in a room where the air is still.  A candle well-made of the best tallow  ( (beef fat))  might burn two hours.  A bayberry candle might last eight,  while a beeswax candle may burn for 10 hours.  The finest candle,  imported from New England,  would have been made of spermaceti wax.  Spermaceti is taken from the head of the sperm whale.  The spermaceti candle might last 12 hours or more,  and burn with a brighter light.”
My wife made us a homemade pizza!
(photo taken by Jenny Weingartz)
Artificial light in the 18th century was truly a luxury.  People were used to working by daylight while indoors,  so lighting a candle when the sun was up was rare.  It was customary for folks to move from room to room to get the most out of the day's light.  Generally,  candles were lit only during the nighttime hours,  and sparingly so,  due to the lengthy candle-making process.  According to one of the chandlers I spoke to at Colonial Williamsburg,  a typical middle class home in the 1750's could go through nearly 500 to 700 candles a year.  And that may even be a conservative amount for some.
The season for dipping candles was usually in early-to-mid November.  It must be remembered that candlemaking was not the fun hobby then as it is in our modern times;  it was a backbreaking,  smelly,  greasy task.  The making of the winter's stock of candles was the special autumnal household duty,  and a hard one,  too,  for the large kettles were tiresome and heavy to handle,  and the work was well under way at a very early hour,  with the temperatures being just cold enough for quick hardening.
Wicks were made from cotton,  hemp,  or,  less often,  from milkweed.  If they lived near a general store,  or maybe if a peddler happened by,  thick string could be bought to use as wicks.
In all  (including those not yet removed from the tin mold tubes)  
we made 44 candles.  I believe that's the most we've done yet!
During candle-making time, an early hour found the work well under way for our ancestors.  A good fire was started in the kitchen fireplace under two vast kettles,  which were hung on trammels from the crane,  and half filled with boiling water and melted beeswax or tallow.
At the far end of the kitchen or in an adjoining and cooler room,  sometimes in the lean-to,  two long poles were laid from chair to chair or stool to stool.  Across these poles were laid candle rods,  which were about a foot and a half long,  and to each rod was attached about six to eight carefully straightened candle-wicks.  With the fat/tallow or wax in the pot melted,  the wicking from the rods would be dipped into the pot and then returned to its place across the two poles.  This process would occur repeatedly as each rod was dipped into the tub of tallow or wax,  and with each dip the candles became larger and larger until the desired length and width was had.
Here you have the candle makers of 2019:  (from left)  me,  my 
wife Patty,  Jenny,  and Jackie.  This was Jackie's first time and Jenny's third.
Maybe one year I will make this a period dress event!
How cool would that be?
It's here that we can quote Susan Blunt,  who remembered her 18th century mother during the fall candle dipping season:
"Mother used to dip candles in the fall,  enough to last all winter.  When a beef was killed in the fall,   she would use all the tallow for candles.  On the evening before,  we would help her prepare the wicks.  The boys would cut a lot of rods and she would cut the wicks the length of a candle and then string them on the rods.
"In the morning she would commence her day's work.   She would dip each one in the hot tallow and straighten out the wicks so the candles would be straight when they were finished.  By raising the candles  (out of the kettle)  at just the right speed and working on a day with a moderate temperature,  the fine quality of the candles would be assured.  The candles would be cooled overnight and the bottom ends cut off neatly.  The finished  candles were packed away in a mouse-proof container for safe storage."

And the diary of Martha Ballard tells us:
November 5, 1787
"Clear & pleast. I Came from mr Fosters. we made 25 Dozn of Candles."
Twenty five dozen - that's 300 candles in one day!

Next we have a wonderful example of candle-making from the Laura Ingalls Wilder book,  "Farmer Boy."  Wilder writes of Almanzo's mother making candles,  also from tallow.  One day I hope to make tallow candles - maybe next year - but the basic motions are the same as with using beeswax:
Even though this is a colonial
picture,  the mold is similar
to the Wilder description from
the 1860s.
"The end of butchering time was candle making.  Mother scrubbed the big lard kettles and filled them with bits of beef fat.  Beef fat doesn't make lard;  it melts into tallow.  While it was melting,  Almanzo helped string the candle molds.  A candle mold was two rows of tin tubes,  fastened together and standing straight up on six feet.  There were twelve tubes in a mold.   They were open at the top,  but tapered to a point at the bottom,  and in each point there was a tiny hole.  Mother cut a length of candle-wicking for each tube.  She doubled the wicking across a small stick,  and twisted it into a cord.  She licked her thumb and finger and rolled the end of the cord into a sharp point.  When she had six cords on the stick,  she dropped them into six tubes,  and the sticks lay on top of the tubes.  The points of the cords came through the tiny holes in the points of the tubes,  and Almanzo pulled each one tight,  and held it tight by sticking a raw potato on the tube's sharp point.
When every tube had its wick,  held straight and tight down its middle,  Mother carefully poured the hot tallow.  She filled every tube to the top.  Then Almanzo set the molds outdoors to cool.  When the tallow was hard,  he brought the mold in.  He pulled off the potatoes.  Mother dipped the whole mold into the boiling water,  and lifted the sticks.  Six candles came up on each stick.  Then Almanzo cut them off the stick.  He trimmed the ends of wicking off the flat ends,  and he left just enough wicking to light,  on each pointed end.
All one day Almanzo helped mother make candles.  That night they had made enough candles to last til butchering time next year."
And that is exactly how I removed the beeswax candles from the tin mold tubes I have.
The candles and the molds they came out of.
The molds aren't like the one in the previous picture,  
but they work the same. 
The very next day after my candle dipping gathering,  we also had another surprise:
we got snow!
A lot of snow.
7 1/2 inches,  which I believe is some kind of record for a single snowfall this early in November for us.
Just the day before,  this firepit was a-cookin'!


My cozy 1944 bungalow in the snow.
Our ancestors did live in darker times,  as we in the modern day find out when a power outage strikes;  we are so used to having bright electric lights,  day or night,  that sometimes even sunlight coming through a window isn't bright enough for some - they'll still turn on their electric light.
There are also those who feel - have proven,  to some extent - that the harshness of the modern electric light plays greatly upon our moods and emotions:
~excessive artificial lighting can cause us to feel nervous and on edge
~uncovered globes and lamps without shades can cause us to feel irritated
And common sense can tell us of the relaxation received upon entering a candle lit room.  When friends visit our home on a fall or winter evening,  the candle/oil lamp light we use for lighting brings a smile to their faces...every time.
Even the kids.
And natural lighting through windows has calming effects on our emotions as well.
A scene our colonial ancestors may had been familiar with.

To finish off this day of candle making:  our grandkids came by to make cookies!  They had such fun with their Nonna  (my wife),  and she,  too,  enjoyed herself as well.  
These are our two eldest grandchildren.  We have a younger 
grandson,  but he was off,  busy playing with toys and having a 
ball on his own.
The finished product
What a wonderfully crazy day!
Making candles over an open fire with friends on a perfect crisp fall day is a great tradition,  then Patty baking pizza,  bread,  and pea soup...and cookies with our grandkids!  The house smelled awesome!
A very fine way to spend a fall Sunday indeed!

And as I wrote on my Facebook page the next day evening:
"So---yesterday we dipped candles.  I also used my candle molds.  Today I removed the candles from the tin tubes - 17 out of the 18 molded candles turned out!
In all we made 44 candles,  with only one not turning out  (it will be re-melted next year).
Not bad!

It's been a fine day indeed.
Until next time,  see you in time.


To read about night time in the old days,  including lighting apparatus,  please click HERE

The information for today's post came from the above link - - check it out and scroll all the way down to see my sources.


















~   ~   ~

Monday, November 4, 2019

The Golden Lion Country Dance: An 18th Century Party

The rains came.  And the water poured from the sky seemingly in bucketfuls.  But we---we were toasty,  dry,  and warm dancing to reels inside a 150 year old schoolhouse.  No,  'twas not a building from the 18th century as we would have preferred,  for those are hard to come by in lower Michigan.
So the old 1872 schoolhouse in Eastpointe,  though not necessarily historically accurate,  would have to do,  at least for now,  especially for the price.
But the look and feel is a lot closer than one would think  (click HERE),  and better than using a high school gymnasium or a wedding hall,  right?
And then fill this old building with 18th century living 
historians,  well,  it certainly does pass quite nicely.
The American Colonial Dance is synonymous with 18th century English Country Dance.  A dance or ball was an opportunity to socialize,  show off the fashions of the day,  and one of the few opportunities for young people to meet an array of matrimonial prospects.
Dance Masters advertisements were seen regularly in 18th and early 19th century in American news papers,  where they offered services to teach classes in the hall,  or to give private lessons at the clients residence.  Many times they also offered lessons in fencing to young gentlemen.
Country Dance,  intended for general participation,  is the granddaddy of our present day Square Dance whose movements are in many cases quite similar,  however the country dance is a bit slower allowing time for a bit of conversation,  one liners,  or even flirting.
By the way,  George and Martha Washington loved  to dance the simple but elegant and happy dances of the 18th century.
And so do we,  as you shall soon see:
Refreshments - care for some cider?
It was early in the year when Tony Gerring came up with the idea of holding an 18th century dance.  It's been a long while - decades,  I hear - since the metro-Detroit area of  Michigan has held such a festivity,  so when Tony decided to give it a go,  he put his own money and his best foot forward and,  well,  it showed,  for all of us who attended the Golden Lion Country Dance had a wonderful time.
To begin with,  guests were treated to a few treats along with apple cider.
Enclosed glass lanterns were on hand to add to the ambience.

And even a couple of carved turnips
that my son Miles carved were on hand,
helping us to remember just how close
we were to All Hallow's Eve
(turnips were carved before pumpkins
back in the day)
Besides the ritual bonfires  (meant to ward off evil spirits)  that were lit on All Hallow's Eve,  mumming and guising  (Trick-or-treating)  were also rituals performed during Samhain/Hallowe'en.
The traditional illumination for guisers or pranksters abroad on the night was provided by turnips  (or mangel wurzels),  hollowed out to act as lanterns,  lit with coal or a candle,  and often carved with grotesque faces.
Turnip lanterns usually represented supernatural beings and were used to chase evil spirits.  Guisers used them to scare people,  while in some cases they were set on windowsills to guard homes against evil.
Irish immigrants brought the jack-o’-lantern custom to North America.  Here,  turnips were slowly replaced by pumpkins to make the iconic Hallowe'en decorations,  and eventually became the plant of choice.

On the left,  meet the host of the country dance,
Mr.  Tony Gerring.  With him is long-time
reenactor and friend,  Ken Roberts.

And next we have the wonderful Dance Band who performed:
Matt McCoy – flute, pennywhistle, recorder
Susie Lorand – fiddle
Rick Avery - keyboard
and caller Jim McKinney

My wife and I
Patty doesn't reenact nearly as much as she used to,  though every-so-often I can coax her to put on her period clothing and come out with me,  as she did for this dance.  And did we dance!  Even with my sciatica,  we were on the floor for probably seven out of the ten dances.  I did pay for it the following day...

My son and his lady
This was Heather's first time at a period dance,  and she certainly could not help but join in the fun,  especially during the Virginia Reel!  She did great!

Three lovely ladies helped each other to look
perfect before the dancing began.

Emma and her gentleman caller 
looked quite elegant.
I'd not met either of these two young people before this night,  though Emma has been a member of my Citizen's of the American Colonies Facebook page for sometime now.  It was nice to meet her in person.

Conversations abounded,  even in mixed
company,  though 'tis not always proper
for a lady to join with the men.

Let the dancing begin!
Now,  I am going to list the songs and dances that were played in the order they were performed,  thanks to the kind folks in the band for giving me the list,  but the photos may not necessarily go with the dance listed.
The first dance was  LONGWAYS PROPER FOR SIX COUPLES:  
"Lady George Murray’s Reel"
(Soldier’s Joy)
The band performed the ancient music flawlessly,  and I recognized many of the old tunes,  for as a collector of music of all flavors,  I have a rather large collection of period tunes mixed among my classic rock,  oldies,  swing,  hillbilly,  and other musical styles.
But this night we heard the music that was favorable to those from the later 18th century.
For the second dance we had  THREE COUPLE CIRCLE:  
"The Gelding Of The Devil"   
(A Hundred Pipers)

The third dance and tune was  LONGWAYS,  DUPLE MINOR PROPER:  
"Constancy"
(The Ton)

For our 4th dance,  which was a reel,  we had:  LONGWAYS PROPER FOR FOUR COUPLES  
"The Major"
(Flowers of Edinburgh)

Number five was  LONGWAYS PROPER FOR SIX COUPLES  
“Rural Felicity”
(Haste To The Wedding)
The country  (or,  in some countries, contra)  dances involved interaction with your partner and/or with other dancers,  usually with a progression so that you dance with everyone in your set.  It is common in our modern times to have a  "caller"  who teaches the dance and then calls the figures as you dance.  The most common formations are  "longways" -  couples in long lines,  and squares,  consisting of four couples. 

Number six was  LONGWAYS PROPER 
FOR THREE COUPLES  
“The Beaux of Albany”
(Lannigan’s Ball)
Susie Lorand – fiddle
Matt McCoy – flute, pennywhistle, recorder
The music most commonly associated with country dancing has always been folk/country,  and in modern society would be known better as traditional/historical music.
My wife and Heather enjoyed watching
the others dance as well as the
fine music being performed.

7th tune and dance was  LONGWAYS PROPER FOR FOUR COUPLES  
“The Pleasure of Providence”
(The Rose Tree)
And then we heard and danced to
8.  LONGWAYS PROPER FOR THREE COUPLES 
“Rickett’s Hornpipe”

9.  LONGWAYS PROPER FOR THREE COUPLES
“Miss Arnold’s Delight”
(Portsmouth)
Until the end of the evening came 'round:
The 10th and final dance was my very favorite of all:  LONGWAYS PROPER FOR SIX COUPLES   
“The Virginia Reel”
(Fisher’s Hornpipe/Mason’s Apron)
Click the link to hear  "Fisher's Hornpipe"

And once the dancing was done,  the band played a final number:  "The Ashgrove"
What a fine collection of period music and 18th century dancing.
This is,  perhaps,  my favorite of all the pictures taken this night,  
for it just seems to allow the viewer to peer into the past;  a 
perception of time and space weaved together,  "allowing time for 
a bit of conversation,  one liners,  or even flirting." 

~Another group photo of all who came,  though this was taken 
without flash for a more natural feel.
Many thanks to all who joined in the revelry,  for because of 
you,  it was a grand success.  
My wife and I have been to many,  many Civil War balls and dances,  but never an 18th century Colonial Country Dance.  The differences?  Well,  the music,  for one.  The tunes were a mite older than what we were used to hearing,  but every bit as good.  The dances,  aside from the Virginia Reel,  were also new to us.  But,  I must say,  we had so much fun - as much as we have at any other dance,  for the basic idea of a community festivity such as this was just as strong in either era.
Yeah,  we certainly enjoyed ourselves immensely.
Thank you Tony for putting it all together.  I look forward to the next one.

Until next time,  see you in time.


Information on the history of the Country Dance came directly from HERE

















~   ~   ~

Monday, October 28, 2019

An 1860s Harvest in Armada, Michigan 2019

Light for dinner
(photo by Ian Kushnir)
I remember that it was in the fall of 2013 while at the Wolcott Mill Civil War reenactment that I initially had the thought of  putting on a harvest presentation.  For years I went to the Fall Harvest Weekends at Greenfield Village,  all the while wishing I could take part in such historic doings.  So while I was presenting to the visiting public in that October of 2013,  I began speaking about what folks of the 1860s did to prepare for winter:  harvesting crops,  making candles,  salting,  pickling,  spinning,  banking the house,  canning,  visiting the gristmill,  a thresherman's dinner...and they responded quite favorably.  That's when the idea of putting on a full-fledged fall harvest hit me.  But I was not able to put anything together so late in the year with the reenacting season over until the following spring.  So I planned it all in my head,  then wrote out my own thoughts and details,  and,  perhaps most important,  spoke with my co-21st Michigan member,  Larissa,  who had years of experience working at the harvest at Greenfield Village,  about putting a presentation together for our group.  We both came up with ideas and called a unit meeting for all who were interested.  Oh!  The walls were swelling with excitement at this meeting!  From there we put everything into place,  and by the following October  (2014)  we,  the civilians of the 21st Michigan,  held our very first fall harvest presentation.
And it was a rousing success on all accounts!
So here we are,  now,  five years later...Wolcott Mill is no longer,  but we have continued presenting Harvest Home every year since,  though in different locations,  including Detroit's Historic Fort Wayne.  However,  this year,  the Village of Armada,  a beautiful quaint small-town American village at its best,  located in northern Macomb County,  was celebrating the sesquicentennial  (150th)  anniversary of its founding.
And we,  the civilians of the 21st Michigan,  were asked to take part.
For whatever reasons we did not have as many from our unit show up this year.  But that's okay,  for those of us who did participate had a splendid time indeed,  and showed hundreds of visitors a bit about harvest life from 150 years earlier.
So - - are you interested in how it all went?
Good!
Here you go - - :
Our little set up in a park just north of the quaint Village.
It was perfect for what we were doing.

And it just felt like fall!

My wife was there on Saturday and was a huge hit with her spinning wheel. 
She let a few of the youngsters try carding the wool with her carding paddles.

Jackie spoke of canning and pickling and other forms of food 
preservation,  as well as a bit about yarn and spinning when my 
wife was away.

Here is my candle presentation.  I also had my farming
tools there as well.  It is unfortunate that I was not
able to procure a few heirloom apples,  but the cost was
a bit beyond my means this year  (they're not cheap).

Kristen had a selection of herbs that were available and harvested in Michigan kitchen gardens of the time of the mid 19th century.  This includes dill,  white oak bark,  and mint.  She used a mortar and pestle to grind the herbs down and made tonics with them.
They can be used for anything,  from helping stomach aches to curing kidney disease.  While not a recommended primary care source today,  some of these herbs do have medicinal properties.
 She also had a 19th century copy of  The Farmer's Almanac,  which published recipes with herbs to help livestock as well.

Although we put on a historic presentation,  we also made sure there was time for visiting with each other,  for we all are very good friends:
Mrs.  Alto and my son,  Robbie.

I was paid a visit by the Armada Queen and her Court!
(Photo by Kevin Grande)

My son,  Robbie,  and his significant other,  Heather.
Heather,  who also reenacts the period of the Revolutionary
War,  has given the American Civil War era a try this
year,  and seems to be enjoying it as well.

Some of our ladies:
Jennifer,  Larissa,  and Jackie.

Carrie and Ian Kusnir,  with their little one,  Nadia,
also came out and spent the day with us as well.

Though some thought otherwise,  the weather was fine indeed.  
Yes,  a little on the nippy side,  but it's October in Michigan!
Yes,  fine indeed,  indeed!

The Woodruffs always celebrate the harvest in such a great way.
Their set up is second to none.

They even bring their chickens out!

The people of Armada certainly welcomed us,  and many from the 
village came to visit with great interest and questions.
We did have some good and consistent crowds come through.
(Bottom photo courtesy of Kevin Grande)

Of course,  the kids  (and Kristen)  always seem to
enjoy shelling corn.

Carla Woodruff brought along her
lap  (or mountain)  dulcimer.

I took a turn playing the lap/mountain dulcimer.  I do know 
how to play,  though very basically.  Here you see me playing one 
of my favorite period tunes,  "Long Long Ago,"  which was 
written in 1833.

Mrs.  Cook was out,  frying up doughnuts for everyone.

We had cider making with the press that the
21st Michigan purchased.

As you can see we use a variety of apples to give our cider a very 
special taste - - a little sweet with a bite.

The process of making apple cider:
carefully toss the apples in the hopper
turn the crank to grind the apples
the apples pieces fall into the barrel below

to be mashed down so that every bit of juice can be squeezed out 

Larissa spoke of  (and made)  sauerkraut.
Making sauerkraut

Carla was peeling apples for sauce.

Vern churns butter - he makes the best!

For our thresherman's dinner,  Ken Alto cooked
 my favorite dish - a fine turkey!

Some of the food we shall eat!
(Pic by Ian Kushnir)

And we did have quite a feast of food at hand for all of us for our thresherman's dinner.
(Image courtesy of Ian Kushnir)
A thresherman's dinner was the celebration meal in which the ladies of the house prepared a fine serving of food to the farming men,  including neighbors who helped with the harvest.  Oh!  It was a grand spectacle of a meal,  and wonderful servings of fresh vegetables and fruits abounded,  along with fowl and other meats.
And,  for the 6th year in a row,  we had one just the same!
Our own fall harvest meal,  held outdoors in the crisp,  cool air of 
autumn,  was,  simply put,  wonderful to participate in.
I was also told folks who witnessed this bit of history were very 
impressed with what they saw.
The pay of a good day's work!
My bride and I enjoying ourselves at the thresherman's dinner,  
which was also a sort of Thanksgiving dinner as well.
In previous years we would have a few members from our group just sort of show up late in the day,  maybe having a package of cookies bought at a store,  and they would come for no other reason than to join in our meal festivities.  But not this year:  I made it plain and clear that unless one participated in the day's activities,  they would not be welcome to share in our dinner.  Just like in days of old,  you worked for your food.

Then there was the Armada Sesquicentennial parade:
Our marchers were ready with their muskets and,  er,  crock.

The Michigan Wheelmen were part of the parade as well,  along 
with firetrucks,  Armada Queen,  marching band,  and...

...the proud 21st Michigan marchers!
No,  Larissa did not carry her crock,  only the parade number .

Meanwhile,  back at the Woodruff camp...
Just what are they carving?
Why...they are carving turnips!
And as you continue to read,  you will learn a little about the turnip and its connection to Hallowe'en...
The sun prepares to set in the western skies,  casting long 
shadows on this October harvest...daytime begins to wane...
Besides the ritual bonfires  (meant to ward off evil spirits)  that were lit on All Hallow's Eve,  mumming and guising  (Trick-or-treating)  were also rituals performed during Samhain.
The traditional illumination for guisers or pranksters abroad on the night was provided by turnips or mangel wurzels,  hollowed out to act as lanterns,  lit with coal or a candle,  and often carved with grotesque faces.
Turnip lanterns usually represented supernatural beings and were used to chase evil spirits.  Guisers used them to scare people,  while in some cases they were set on windowsills to guard homes against evil.
Irish immigrants brought the jack-o’-lantern custom to North America.  Here,  turnips were slowly replaced by pumpkins to make the iconic Halloween decorations,  and eventually became the plant of choice.
Turnips for Hallowe'en
In the British Isles,  it is known that churches were already celebrating All Saints on November 1st at the beginning of the 8th century to coincide with or replace the Celtic festival of Samhain.  The 19th century anthropologist Sir James Frazer suggested that November 1st  was chosen because it was the date of the Celtic festival of the dead (Samhain).  However,  English Historian Ronald Hutton points out that,  according to Ă“engus of Tallaght  (d. ca. 824),  the 7th/8th century church in Ireland celebrated All Saints on April 20th.  He suggests that the November 1st date was a Germanic rather than a Celtic idea.
But here in America it is all celebrated in a myriad of different ways by as many different people.  Adaptations of Washington Irving's  "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"  (1820)  often show the Headless Horseman with a pumpkin or jack-o'-lantern in place of his severed head.  In the original story,  a shattered pumpkin is discovered next to Ichabod Crane's abandoned hat on the morning after Crane's supposed encounter with the Horseman.
The application of the term to carved pumpkins in American English is first seen in 1834.

Something I was not familiar with is that October’s Full Moon is known as the Hunter’s Moon.  Hunter's moon is mentioned in several sources as the Anglo-Saxon name for the Full Moon of October.  This is the month when the game is fattened,  and it is time to start preparing for the coming winter.  Traditionally,  this included hunting,  slaughtering and preserving meats for use in the coming winter months.
Just so I could learn the difference between the harvest moon,  the full moon,  and the hunter's moon,  the Full Moon closest to the September equinox is called the Harvest Moon, and it is either in September or October.  Most years,  the Harvest Moon is in September,  but around every three years,  it is in October.  And,  as mentioned,  Hunter's moon is October's full moon.
Since we had the Harvest Moon already this year  (September),  
this full moon for mid-October is the Hunter's Moon,  just in time 
for our harvest presentation---perfect!
Harvest Moon is the most famous of all the Full Moon names.  Some sources claim the name originates from ancient Native American tradition.  Others point out that Harvest month was recorded as early as in the 700s in both Anglo-Saxon and Old High German languages.
Simply put,  both the Harvest moon and Hunter's moon are full moons with names and dates attached.


And there you have another successful harvest with a few of the 21st Michigan civilians.
If you are a longtime reader of Passion for the Past,  then you know how much of an autumn person I am.  It is just such a wooden...natural time of year.
I want to personally thank the members of the 21st Michigan who participated in our harvest.  I am so very thankful to the following  (yes,  their names deserve to be listed):
Jackie Alto
Ken Alto
Heather Bradley
Candy Cary
Jim Cary
Jean Cook
Larissa Fleishman
Miles Giorlando
Patty Giorlando
Robbie Giorlando
Carrie Kushnir
Ian Kushnir
Nadia Kushnir
Jennifer Long
Kristem Mrozek
Jackie Schubert
Carl Woodruff
Carla Woodruff
Marianne Woodruff
Vern Woodruff
Verny Woodruff
.......................

Now, what I did for today's posting was combine the two days of our harvest into one,  to try and create a more cohesive story.  The parade actually took place on Sunday while nearly everything else you see here occurred on Saturday.
But I must say,  our harvest home event just might be one of my most favorite of all,  for it truly brings the fall and harvest and all the glories of America past together...community.
And,  yes,  we will be back harvesting again in 2020.  Will we return to Armada?  That awaits to be seen.  If they have us,  then I would say we most likely will.
Harvest Home everyone!

Until next time,  see you in time.
Thank you,  Armada!

























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