Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Celebrating George Washington's Birthday in 2023

Happy Birthday to the  Father of our Country.
For 47 of his 67 years,  George Washington celebrated two birthdays...sort of.  The first was the date on which he was born in 1732,  February 11th.  
But wait,  some may ask—the 11th??  Wasn’t his birthday always on February 22nd?  
Not always.  
In 1752,  you see,  when George Washington was twenty,  Great Britain adopted the new,  improved calendar instituted by Pope Gregory the 13th late in the 16th century and proceeded to impose it on us as we were then colonies of Great Britain.  This newly imposed Gregorian calendar,  as it became known,  fixed the length of the solar year at 365 days,  to which was added one day every four years if said year was divisible by four  (i.e. Leap Year). 
The George Washington redware plate I picked
up at the Henry Ford Museum.
The switch to the Gregorian calendar from the old Julian calendar  (named for Julius Caesar)  was because the old calendar had become out of whack relative to the sun’s and earth’s cycles by ten whole days.  By 1752,  it was off by eleven whole days.  So those eleven days were simply dropped that year.  The day following February 1,  for instance,  was not February 2nd.  It was February 11th.  So George Washington’s old birthday on February 11th jumped all the way to February 22nd.
Although at first many colonial communities refused to go along with this,  George Washington apparently took the change in stride and,  from 1752 on,  accepted February 22nd as his birthday.  On the other hand,  he didn’t completely ignore his old February 11th birthday.  For instance,  in 1799 he attended a gala birthday party in his honor in Alexandria,  Virginia,  on February 11th,  writing in his diary that night that he  “went up to Alexandria for the celebration of my birthday.”
A few of the Citizens of the
American Colonies who celebrated
with us.
Eleven days later,  on February 22nd,  1799,  he celebrated his second birthday of that year which turned out to be the last of his life.  He died ten months later,  on the evening of December 14,  1799.
(The above came from THIS site)
So to celebrate the Father of our Country's 291st birthday,  a few of us got together on Saturday,  February 18  (sort of in between his two birth dates)  in our own commemoration.  Yes,  we are all people who admire what a great man Washington was - greater,  in my opinion,  than any president that followed - and therefore we felt this would be a fond and fine way to honor him.  That doesn't mean that I / we agree with everything he did,  for he certainly had his faults  (show me a human being that doesn't),  but even with his human faults and decisions,  he truly was a great,  great man.
So once again we gathered at the old schoolhouse in Eastpointe to celebrate the man that lead the Continental Army to victory and Independence against Britain's King George & his Regulars,  and then who became our nation's 1st President.  This year we did something a little different to help add to the air of authenticity:  at the request of Tony Gerring - head of the 1st Pennsylvania reenacting group,  and also the party's host - we did most of our celebrating by candle light.  It truly did lend a fine period atmosphere indeed.
And what a great opportunity to get back into our period clothing  (even though I've done so two other times so far this month of February)!
The celebrants on this February evening.

Aaron played period music on his hammered dulcimer.

Raise a glass to the Commander in Chief of the Continental Army and
1st President of these United States,  George Washington!

Of course,  we had fine food...

...cream for topping...

...drink...including George
Washington's favorite,  Madeira...

...and some good conversation.

It was wonderful to see a few folk I've not seen in a while,  such as Jennifer and Amy.  I am very glad they have joined up with the Citizens of the American Colonies and now spend time in the 18th century.  
Jennifer & Amy raise a glass to the Father of our Country!
Jennifer commented that,  "I literally felt like we all took a trip to Williamsburg tonight!   (It was)  so much fun!"
It's good to have another place in time to visit now with Civil War reenacting,  unfortunately,  waning.
There were a few others from our Citizens group there who I do see quite often,  like Charlotte.
My time-travel pal,  Charlotte and myself.

Ken Roberts and Norman Gerring,  the minister,  were also involved in a deep conversation.

My son,  Robbie,  was entranced by the glow of candle light.
"One day,  Pops,"  he said to me,  "someone will invent an
electrical version of light.  You won't have to
dip candles anymore!"
"Not in my  lifetime,"  I replied.

Mother and daughter.

Myself and Jennifer
A different Jennifer

Tony,  our host.

Josh,  Amy,  and Charlotte

Enjoying a wonderfully tasty meal.

The schoolhouse,  originally built in 1872, 
was a fine place to have such a celebration.
As I did not have a Christmas gathering this year,  I'm glad Tony pushed for this celebration.  To do something of this sort in these bleak mid-winter days gives us the light to help us carry through into the warmer sunnier days of spring,  which isn't too far off.
Yes,  I do love the winter,  but about this time of year I look forward to the season of rebirth.

By the way,  did you know that I've met George Washington---twice?
While in Colonial Williamsburg I got to meet
the 1775 George Washington.

And,  then,  while at Historic Fort Wayne in Detroit I was able to be with...
...the 1780s George Washington.

And one day,  while I was visiting the Henry Ford Museum:
As commander of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War,  General George Washington usually did sleep and eat in the nearby homes of  well-to-do locals during the eight 
years he led the American military campaign.  But among George Washington’s camp equipage were tents,  this folding bed,  cooking and eating utensils,  and other equipment that he used when he had to encamp on the field with his troops.
Who is that in the mirror on the left??
In the photo on the left it almost looks like I am a part of the display of George Washington items,  some of which were around during his time,  along with a few that were made as a tribute after his 1799 death.
For the 2nd picture we see some camping gear used by George Washington in the 
early 1780s. 
Seriously---George Washington slept here. 
George Washington! 
President numero uno...!! 
If that doesn't get you excited,  I don't believe anything will!

For my friend Carolyn,  I would like to include this picture you see below,  of which is a combination of two separate photos to make a more cohesive single.  It was taken at an event called  "We Humble Ourselves - Turning a Nation Back to God,"  (2015)  which was a patriotic concert/ceremony featuring a symphony orchestra,  a choral group,  a drum and fife corps,  and living historians representing historical figures showing our nation's Christian heritage.   Attendees were encouraged to dress in Colonial or Civil War era clothing for the Event,  which many did  (Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln were also there).
I,  unfortunately,  could not attend,  for I had prior commitments.  But,  Carolyn did,  as well as another friend,  Jeri  (who has sadly since passed away):
President Washington stands with Carolyn  (on the left)  and  Jeri  (on the right)  
at  "We Humble Ourselves."  
Yes,  this is the same George Washington who presents at Mount Vernon. 
With a little photo-trickery,  I was able to take away a modern parking lot background
 and replace it with the Giddings House,  which was built in the mid-18th century.
For the photo-trickery in the above picture I chose the Exeter,  New Hampshire house of John Giddings  (now reconstructed and restored inside Greenfield Village in Dearborn,  Michigan)  for the background of this photo because Giddings,  being a man of prominence,  was an elected statesman for several years,  and a representative just before and during the early years of the American Revolution.  He one of the most active and trusted supporters of the patriotic cause in the Legislature,  and he commanded a company of those who marched from Exeter to Portsmouth to support,  if necessary,  in the raid upon Fort William and Mary in Portsmouth Harbor in December 1774.  In 1775,  he was nominated for the important appointment of delegate to the Continental Congress,  but modestly withdrew his name.
As for my own research,  in the book  "Rolls and Documents Relating to Soldiers of the Revolutionary War,"  I found a Captain John Giddings under the  "Exeter Account."  
There is also a possibility that George Washington may have had some contact with a member of the Giddings family and perhaps may have even seen this house.  Though there is nothing documented of a Washington-Giddings meeting,  Washington was in Exeter in 1789 and that he most likely had dinner with a group of prominent citizens,  including the New Hampshire Secretary of State Joseph Pearson  (Giddings'  soon to be son-in-law).  However,  in Washington's diary entry dated November 4,  1789,  he indicates that he had taken note of,  and had an interest in,  the ship building activity in Exeter.  Newspaper accounts of the time do place Washington at Folsom Tavern just a few blocks from the Giddings' wharf.
One never knows...

History all around.
Birthday Boy!
So now we are celebrating the 291st birthday of the Father of our Country - whether Julian or Gregorian.  I think it’s ironic that as a country we don’t really celebrate either one of George Washington’s two February birthdays.  The closest we come is our celebration of Presidents’ Day on the 3rd Monday in February,  and that means also celebrating presidents we don't care for---poor presidents along with the great ones.
Ah,  but there are a few of us who know and do better.

Until next time,  see you in time.

To learn about Washington's last couple of days and of his Death,  please click HERE
A quick museum overview of America's fight for Liberty - click HERE
Flying Solo in Period Clothing - Colonial Ken Visits The Henry Ford Museum - click HERE

Thank you to Charlotte,  Jenny,  Jennifer,  and Norman for allowing me to mix their photos with mine.

~   ~   ~

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