Wednesday, April 1, 2020

The Origin of April Fools: The Gregorian Calendar of the Renaissance

Since becoming interested in history, I've started digging into the origins of this, that, and the other thing. Every April 1st I wonder where in the world did April Fools come from? Finally I did some digging. And no worries, no pranks in this. =)

April Fools Calendar
Origin of April Fools

Of the many stories I chose my favorite, but I'm citing all my sources at the bottom of this post so you can do your own digging! =)

Consider the Gregorian Calendar.

Named after Pope Gregory XIII, the Gregorian Calendar was created in 1582 to correct the problem with leap years in the Julian Calendar. (You can read all about why the Julian Calendar had been developed in the days of Rome, here.)

The Julian Calendar ended the year with the end of winter, the spring equinox, which is in March.

The Gregorian Calendar returned to ancient Mesopotamian tradition of celebrating the new year based on the shortest day of the year, the December solstice, when the earth is closest to the sun.

However it took 300 years for the world to switch over to the Gregorian Calendar. Much of Continental Europe converted between 1582 and 1700. The United Kingdom and her colonies (including the American colonies) converted in 1752. (That is why George Washington has two birthdays in his lifetime, but three in ours. Okay, so the third has actually become multiple celebrations throughout the month of February.) Other countries in Asia and Europe converted in the 19th and 20th centuries. (See a detailed chart here.)

So, how does the pranking fit in?

Those who more quickly adapted to the new Gregorian Calendar poked fun at those who continued to celebrate the New Year on April 1.


HSLDA Online Academy Discount for the 2020 Academic Year

Perfectly Planning (2)
Perfectly Planning Homeschool

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Monday, March 16, 2020

The benefits of sunlight amidst changes: Me, You, America, the World

Lots of things have happened in my life, personally, over the last few years, that I'm now creating a new life. =) That is keeping me plenty busy, and I have finally collected pictures of the wedding to tell more of that lovely story of joy, bliss, promise, hope, love...and Audrey Hepburn dresses. =)

But now more is happening in the world that has touched each and every one of us personally. In light of some research that came my way (Lessons about the sun learned from the 1918 influenza epidemic), I thought I'd share a bit of my personal story from the days of yore (aka Before Blogging).

My son was born a preemie and by age 1 was diagnosed Failure to Thrive and by age 2 was on 10 asthma medications. Every time I put him in the church's play room while I attended a Bible Study or church, he got sick, started a cough/vomit reaction, got sick, fell way below weight on the growth chart. Every. Single. Time.
I finally quarantined myself and my kids. No more church. No more play groups except with one or two healthy kids at a time. We sought outdoor activity away from crowds. We walked, we did playgrounds, we watched animals. We went to outdoor concerts on a summer evening by the river where we spread out a blanket and let the kids enjoy. That gave time for my son to not have heavy meds to stop the cough/vomit thing, gave time for the docs to figure out what was going on, gave time for my son to heal. This took 1-2 years. It worked like a charm. We reentered society: church classes with kids his age, by now he was 5, and he no longer had the cough/vomit thing and major weight loss thing going on.
I made sure to not teach my kids fear. I taught them to make healthy choices.
Don't let panic keep you indoors. Be smart by staying away from crowds, but still get outside. It will do you more good than staying inside. 
Staying inside will cause other health factors and actually make you more susceptible to catching this virus.
We all need exercise and fresh air....adults and kids.
There are a few exceptions. Those are rare. They know who they are.
I'd say for kids whose schools have closed due to this virus, get outdoors for your school lessons. Also vision is movement. Too much screen time is bad for your vision and your body. Sitting is the new smoking. (I"m not saying avoid screen time, just find balance.)
Get outdoors to play. Start a nature journal. Study insects, earthworms, and birds in your backyard.
Read from the Great Books list. If you can't access books because libraries are closed (they are in NoVA) then subscribe to audible! 

Since we are all a bit stuck at home, and I can't resume my history travels with all events having been canceled, this might be a good time to start a series of when my kids were littles and share some of this journey of how we used the great outdoors to help them become stronger for a better day.

Last summer, as a part of my downsizing to sell my house and move into an apartment, I finally got around to scanning my photo collection of when my kids were quite the wee ones. Stay tuned for our journey.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Worm Moon-March Full Moon


The March Full Moon has been called: Worm Moon, Sap Moon, Crow Moon, Crust Moon

Worm Moon

The softening of the ground, earthworms becoming active, all admist the chirping of robins who beckon spring and ate the earthworms...the March moon was named for the earthworm. The sighting of earthworm casts (excretions) proved evidence of their activity that would yield fruitful crops to a hungering people.

Sap Moon

With the arrival of spring the sap began flowing in the maple trees, yielding delicious syrup for a hungering people. It was time to tap the trees for the amber gold.

Crow Moon

The return of crows, constantly cawing, signaled the end of the tranquility of winter.

Crust Moon

Warmer days and cold nights creating a daily thaw-freeze cycle led to a layer of crust on the snow. Hence Crust Moon.


Friday, February 14, 2020

How to write love letters 18th Century Style

"Virginians must dance or they will die," wrote Phillip Vickers Fithian in his 1774 journal.

 "It is a truth universally acknowledged", with many thanks to Jane Austen, that the art of dance improved one's chances in acquiring a sweetheart. But while attending to the matters of the heart, the art of dancing  must not negate the art of letter writing, as the following 18th century gents will testify.

27-CW Rev City Dance
Colonial Williamsburg, Revolutionary City

Marquis de Lafayette

"I love you more than I have ever loved-and will as long as I live." Lafayette wrote these romantic longings to his wife, Adrienne. It was 1777, the year he turned 20 and his wife of three years turned 18. It was the year Lafayette was commissioned major general in the Continental Army, fighting in the American Revolution under General Washington. He had snuck out of France against the wishes of his king to fight for America.

16-CW Rev City
Colonial Williamsburg, Revolutionary City
George Washington

General Washington also had a way with words, as he set off for war in 1775. His tender affection written to Martha on June 18, 1775, can be read here. Another soon followed on June 23, 1775 which the linked article describes as being akin to a line from Pride and Prejudice. (Both letters are quite long, best to read them at the Mount Vernon website which at the links.)

John Page

After John Page of Gloucester, Virginia, escorted the lovely Margaret home from a dance, he discovered her glove in the carriage, which prompted the following exchange of verses.

John wrote to Margaret:

"Taking 'G' from 'Glove' leaves 'Love'

Tis that I offer thee."

Margaret replied:

"Taking 'P' from 'Page' leaves 'Age,'

And you are too old for me."

A few months later they were married, during which time they continued to exchange verses. More details of the Page family can be read here.

Alexander Hamilton

Hamiltonian fans might enjoy this one:
You engross my thoughts too intirely to allow me to think of anything else-you not only employ my mind all day; but you intrude upon my sleep. I meet you in every dream-and when I wake I cannot close my eyes again for ruminating on your sweetness.-Alexander Hamilton to Elizabeth Schuyler October 5, 1780

7-CW Playbooth Theater
Colonial Williamsburg, Playbooth Theatre, Taming of the Shrew
Philip Vickers Fithian (tutor for the children of Robert Carter III of Virginia)

Philip Vickers Fithian quite often mournfully swooned in similar fashion as Hamilton. Although writing this portion in the third person, Fithian was actually writing to Laura, herself:
...In spite of all my strongest opposing Efforts my Thoughts dwell on that vixen Laura-I strive to refuse them Admission, or harbor them in my Heart, yet like the hidden Fire they introduce themselves, & seize & overcome me...-Journal and Letters of Philip Vickers Fithian
18th century writing style handbooks

If you are not certain as to how to become as eloquent as Hamilton's "ruminating on your sweetness" never fear. You can always use an 18th century writing style handbook. According to this article they were quite popular in the day. It mentions Samuel Richardson's Letters Written to and for Particular Friends, 1741, Bath, Gloucestershire which can be read here. One bit of advice Richardson gave was:
With regard to Letters of Courtship...they should have their Foundation laid in common Sense, and a manly Sincerity, and in a Word, be such as a prudent Woman need not blush to receive, nor a discreet man be ashamed to look back upon...
For more romantic writing tips in the most proper manner, The New Lover's Instructor, 1780, Britain, can be read here.


We began with romance from a Frenchman, so let's end with romance from a Frenchman: "I hope to hold you in my arms before long, when I shall lavish upon you a million kisses, burning as the equatorial sun."-Napoleon to Josephine, spring 1797

65-CW Robert Carter III House
Colonial Williamsburg Resource, Robert Carter III House
And with that, my dear readers, may you dance and write your hearts away not only this romantic weekend, but every day of your romantic lives. And I especially recommend  reading the Journal and Letters of Philip Vickers Fithian. I read it through and enjoyed it immensely last year and have many topics I look forward to sharing with my kind readers.


Sunday, February 9, 2020

Snow Moon-February Full Moon


The many names of the January Full Moon are: Snow Moon, Storm Moon, Hunger Moon, No Snow on the Trails Moon, and the Bone Moon.

Snow Moon

February tends to be the record breaking month for snow in the United States.

No Snow on the Trails Moon

However to offset the Northern tribes, the southwestern Zuni tribe named the February moon the No Snow on the Trails Moon.

Bone Moon

Because the Cherokee were so hungry, they gnawed the bones they had left, and ate bone marrow soup. Hence the name for their moon, Bone Moon.