Category Archive 'History'
09 Aug 2020

Trying For the Original 1886 Pemberton Coca-Cola Recipe

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(Needs the real coca leaf.)

03 Jul 2020

Lee’s Gamble

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For every Southern boy fourteen years old, not once but whenever he wants it, there is the instant when it’s still not yet two o’clock on that July afternoon in 1863, the brigades are in position behind the rail fence, the guns are laid and ready in the woods and the furled flags are already loosened to break out and Pickett himself with his long oiled ringlets and his hat in one hand probably and his sword in the other looking up the hill waiting for Longstreet to give the word and it’s all in the balance, it hasn’t happened yet, it hasn’t even begun yet, it not only hasn’t begun yet but there is still time for it not to begin against that position and those circumstance which made more men than Garnett and Kemper and Armistead and Wilcox look grave yet it’s going to begin, we all know that, we have come too far with too much at stake and that moment doesn’t need even a fourteen-year-old boy to think This time. Maybe this time with all this much to lose than all this much to gain: Pennsylvania, Maryland, the world, the golden dome of Washington itself to crown with desperate and unbelievable victory the desperate gamble, the cast made two years ago.

—William Faulkner, Intruder in the Dust, 1948.

03 Jul 2020

Pickett’s Charge

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Today is the 157th Anniversary of the Third Day of the decisive Battle of Gettysburg.

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Crossing the Emmitsburg Road

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“Give them cold steel.” — Brigadier General Lewis Armistead (February 18, 1817–July 3, 1863)

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“Dr. Joseph Hold of the 11th Mississippi, Davis’ brigade, anticipated that the afternoon would be busy and set up his dressing station early in a shelter behind Seminary Ridge. . .When the cannonade opened and the Federals’ guns replied, stretcher bearers, crouching low, began bringing in the wounded. Among the first was an athletic young man with reddish golden hair, “a princely fellow,” the doctor called him, with a calm manner and a delightful smile, one of that gay, turbulent company that had left with the University Greys of Oxford to form Company A of the 11th Mississippi.

“The physician examined the left arm, cut off at the elbow, and offered encouragement.

“‘Why, doctor, that isn’t where I am hurt.’ The boy pulled back a blanket and showed where a shell had ripped deep across his abdomen, carrying away much that was vital. ‘I am in great agony,’ he said, still smiling. ‘Let me die easy, dear doctor.’

“But before the lad had drunk the cup containing the concentrated solution of opium, the doctor held up his right arm so he could write: ‘My dear mother. . .Remember that I am true to my country and my regret at dying is that she is not free. . .you must not regret that my body cannot be obtained. It is a mere matter of form anyhow. . .Send my dying release to Miss Mary. . .’ He signed, JERE S. GAGE, Co. A, 11 Miss. By that time, the letter was covered with blood.

“Then he raised his cup to a group of soldiers. ‘I do not invite you to drink with me,’ he remarked wryly, then with fervor, ‘but I drink a toast to you, the Southern Confederacy, and to victory’

* * *

“Then Pickett stood in front of his division and gave the final word ‘Charge the enemy and remember old Virginia.’ His voice was clear and strong as he spoke the order: ‘Forward! Guide center! March’ . . .

“‘I don’t want to make this charge,’ Longstreet declared emphatically. ‘I don’t believe it can succeed. I would stop Pickett now, but that General Lee has ordered it and expects it.’

“Further remarks showed he wanted some excuse for calling off the whole attack.

“But Longstreet and Alexander had lost control. As they talked, the turf trembled about them and the long line of grey infantry broke from the woods. First came Garnett’s Virginians, the general in front, his old blue overcoat buttoned tightly around his neck. Abreast was Kemper’s trim line marching majestically into the open fields, the fifes piping ‘Dixie,’ the ranks in nearly perfect alignment. Far to the left could be heard the drum rolls of the Carolina regiments – Pettigrew and Trimble were in motion. The hour of the generals had passed. The infantrymen from the Richmond offices and Pearisburg farmlands, the ‘greys’ from the halls of ‘Old Miss’ and the ‘flower of the Cape Fear section,’ had taken the Confederate cause into their hands.

* * *

“The assaulting column consisted of 41 regiments and one battalion. . .Nineteen of the regiments were from Virginia, 15 from North Carolina, 3 each from Tennessee and Mississippi, and one regiment and one battalion from Alabama.

* * *

“Garnett, with a big voice issuing from his frail body, road ahead of his line regulating the pace, admonishing his men not to move too rapidly. From the skirmish line, Captain Shotwell obtained one of the rare views of the Confederate advance: the ‘glittering forest of bright bayonets,’ the column coming down the slope ‘in superb alignment,’ the ‘murmur and jingle’ and ‘rustle of thousands of feet amid the stubble’ which stirred up a cloud of dust ‘like the dash of spray at the prow of a vessel.’

“In front of Pickett flew the blue banner of the Old Dominion with the motto, ‘Sic semper Tyrannis,’ and the Stars and Bars of the Confederacy (the red battle flag with its blue cross not yet being in general use). The regimental flags flapped. A soft warm wind was blowing from the land they loved.”

–Glenn Tucker, “High Tide at Gettysburg.”

01 May 2020

Victims of Communism Day

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Human remains at Kolyma.

Ten films on the subject of Communism’s demicide.

The most comprehensive statistical source for democide statistics, Death By Government, puts the toll at 106 million. Necrometrics estimates that Stalin and Mao alone killed 60 million. Wikipedia, defining democide more narrowly, puts the toll between 21 million and 70 million. The Museum of iCommunism estimates 100 million murdered. The Black Book of iCommunism estimates 80 to 100 million.

But these are just statistics. As psychologists have pointed out, it’s impossible for the human mind to grasp the magnitude of that level of horror through sheer numbers. Just as Schindler’s List was instrumental in getting the public to come to finally terms with the Holocaust, it is perhaps through film that death toll of communism can best be understood.

Every May 1st for the last several years, Ilya Somin has written an editorial for the Washington Post declaring the “May Day” so beloved by the Left to be renamed “Victims of Communism Day.” I concur, and so, while socialists blissfully celebrate their worker’s paradise this May Day, indifferent to the human cost of their political philosophy, I propose that well-meaning people consider watching a film on the subject, both out of respect for those lost and to be intellectually armed against the ignorance of those still in denial. Here are some recommendations.

RTWT

29 Apr 2020

TheDecameron and the 14th Century Plague in Florence

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John William Waterhouse, A Tale From the Decameron, 1916, Lady Lever Art Gallery, Liverpool.

Paula Findlen, in Boston Review, remembers an earlier, far more terrible pandemic, which at least resulted in the creation of an enduring literary classic.

We know the plague best, of course, through the lens of the Black Death, the infamous outbreak of plague that peaked in the mid fourteenth century. The scourge affected most of Eurasia and North Africa, and may have reached as far as sub-Saharan Africa and the Indian Ocean. But some of the most vivid documentation of the devastation it wrought comes from European cities such as Florence, where the fourteenth-century humanist Giovanni Boccaccio had a front-row seat to the most fatal pandemic in recorded human history. There the Black Death left its mark on everything to such a degree that one could speak of a time before plague, and a time after. …

In 1348 Boccaccio’s world changed abruptly and dramatically. The illegitimate son of a wealthy Florentine merchant, he was a struggling writer and sometime commercial agent in his mid-thirties, desperately trying to establish his independence from his father and hoping that he had mostly left Florence behind. He was probably not there but when the “deadly pestilence” arrived in his native city but returned in the aftermath. At least a third of the population died, including his father and stepmother, leaving him to deal with the chaos of lives interrupted.

Boccaccio immediately began to write about his experience as a creative response to this blighted landscape. He most likely completed the Decameron—one hundred tales told by seven young women and three men who fled the city—in 1351. As the title suggests, the collection is a ten-day StorySlam, a verbal marathon racing through the full spectrum of human behavior: aristocratic pretensions, clerical failings, romantic misalliances, corrupt institutions, business deals and marriages gone bad, Christians interacting with Jews and Muslims, peasants wondering if they might ever best their lords. Boccaccio populated his tales with characters from every walk of life. Even today, he remains one of the most articulate and thoughtful eyewitnesses to a society living with a pandemic.

The literary masterpiece begins with an introduction recalling the “painful memory of the deadly havoc wrought by the recent plague.” A keen observer of society, Boccaccio noted how quickly trust broke down, even among friends and neighbors, as the fourteenth-century equivalent of social distancing altered and strained normal relations.

Fear overtook people and found its expression in a number of ways. Boccaccio lamented how many people died alone or among strangers. He documented changes in burial practices, noting that people no longer mourned as they used to because they could not gather publicly or embrace the body of a beloved relative or friend who had succumbed to disease. Ordinary activities became a source of enormous anxiety, as people realized that everything they encountered in their daily lives might harbor infection. Notaries saw business increase, as people obsessively made wills on the chance that they might not survive. Once disease penetrated and altered the social fabric of the city, this corporate body struggled to maintain its integrity.

The Decameron also reflects how imperfectly the state intervened—something Boccaccio understood very well; his recently deceased father was the aptly named Orwellian “Officer of Plenty” (Ufficiale dell’Abbondanza) in charge of reserve supplies. Grain mattered, toilet paper not at all. Ad hoc committees enacted emergency measures, claiming extraordinary powers beyond the normal rule of law, as they also did in times of war.

Unlike COVID-19, bubonic plague is not transmitted by human contact but by fleas and the animals bearing them—unless you were a surgeon lancing buboes or otherwise had direct contact with the site of infection. Renaissance Florentines did not know how this disease worked. Physicians initially took the cause to be the hot humid air of the city in summer. Compared to quarantine, which actually harbored the possibility of preventing infected goods and rodents from entering the city, improvised measures to isolate the sick by immuring them in their homes did little to slow the terrifying course of disease.

Widespread fear became a basis for further mistreatment of the poor, foreign, and disenfranchised sectors of society—those who did not have the luxury of flight. Were they the source of the poisonous air? Previous generations believed that heretics, Jews, and lepers could kill with their breath. That pestilential idea inspired moral explanations of this new disease and fear-ridden efforts to rid society of its impure elements—not in Florence, but in parts of Spain, England, and Northern Europe where religious and economic tensions predated the arrival of plague.

Instead, the more pious Florentines prayed. The clergy who did not flee to save themselves remained to save others, alternately exhorting people to their best behavior and chastising them for being the cause of it all. Thwarting the state, defiant preachers convened the faithful since it was impossible to imagine a good end without divine recourse. Of course business ground to a halt. Commerce between peoples and regions virtually ceased, save for those bold and foolhardy enough to take the risks and suffer the consequences.

Taking the pulse of his society, Boccaccio discerned four principal reactions to a pandemic. First were those who “lived in isolation from everyone else,” who appeared to him a rather self-satisfied, if stoic lot. Their pantries were full of “delicate foods and precious wines”; they lightly entertained themselves and simply shut their doors on the world until plague passed. They constantly congratulated themselves on responding well. By contrast, society’s epicureans partied from dawn until dusk, treating plague as “one enormous joke.” They were smart enough to avoid contact with the sick but considered the pandemic a reason to flout all rules.

In between lay a third group of people who did not self-quarantine, soberly or riotously, but carefully moved about the city taking precautionary measures. Long before the modern face mask became a competitive sport for those inclined to make do-it-yourself YouTube videos, fragrant flowers, aromatic herbs, and exotic spices became popular adornments for those dangerous forays outdoors, since they allegedly kept the miasmas of disease at bay. A final group avoided all these problems and fled for the relative isolation and fresh air of the countryside, much like the ten youthful protagonists of his Decameron. Boccaccio observed that all of them lived and died in equal measure, unlike the poor who had no choices and were disproportionately afflicted.

For Boccaccio and his contemporaries, plague became the ultimate test of the fine line between knowledge and ignorance, truth and deception, as much as it also defined the limits of greed and compassion. Famous physicians deployed the full might of their expertise, offering a dizzying array of contradictory explanations—fantastically elaborate astrological charts and complex medical theories of humoral balance and imbalance, bolstered by the weight of authority and learning. They did not have a theory of contagion. Instead, the most perceptive medical practitioners who cared for the sick and dying concluded that the best medicine came from experience, which was initially in short supply. Far more humble healers and those who considered healing an act of pious charity risked their lives to alleviate suffering. Charlatans promising false hope preyed on people’s desperation. Physicians and apothecaries furiously recalibrated recipes for legendary antidotes in the ancient pharmacopeia to ward off poisons in the hope that they might work on something new. No one initially could provide anything remotely like a cure.

Instead, everyone became proficient at recognizing the symptoms, which Boccaccio describes in gruesome and precise detail, finding the right words because it was a shared experience. His telling observation that the Florentine plague “did not take the form it had assumed in the East” is a reminder that we do not have to await the modern era to be aware that a disease is not one thing but a complex of different symptoms that might evolve and change as they migrate with humans, animals, and insects. Even though his society did not understand the means of transmission, people observed its manifestations closely.

Boccaccio not only knew that plague had been something different before it reached Florence; he also understood that “the symptoms of the disease changed” as it evolved between spring and summer within the city. Bubonic plague probably gave way to the pneumonic and septicemic versions—and we might add, surely, the gastrointestinal version if people ate infected animals. Now one could become sick if someone coughed up blood in proximity to a healthy individual, and everyone took note of this awful development. Understanding disease became a project of society as a whole, not simply those who claimed particular expertise or authority. This was a lesson that Boccaccio inscribed in the introduction to the Decameron, which is why his brief but compelling description remains one of the best accounts of this disease, written by a layperson rather than a physician. (Daniel Defoe similarly captured the sheer awfulness of the Great Plague of London a little over three centuries later.)

By the time Boccaccio completed the Decameron, physicians began to write down what they learned, too. He became one of their most attentive and critical readers. While plague initially revealed the inadequacies of fourteenth-century medicine, it also challenged physicians to offer better advice and attempt different solutions in the coming years. They began to think about what kind of poison a plague might be, the first step toward a model of contagion. None of their preventive measures eradicated plague, to be sure, but they helped to establish a new partnership between medical practitioners and the state in devising public health measures, at first temporary and later semi-permanent. Boccaccio was among the first to publicize the changing response to disease.

Despite plague’s virulence, Boccaccio did not leave his readers without hope. With bitter irony, he declared that in the long march of human history, plague had been a “brief unpleasantness”—short in duration, long in impact. He lived to see his society emerge from the scourge and later saw it return. In 1351, however, he was cautiously optimistic that better preparedness in the future could lessen the high mortality rate of 1348. “A great many people died who would perhaps have survived had they received some assistance,” he concluded.

RTWT

17 Mar 2020

Isaac Newton, Be Like Him

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09 Mar 2020

“Kvinnors Minnen” (Womens’ Memories)

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Kvinnors minnen from Dalarnas museum on Vimeo.

In the old days, Swedish women would take the cattle and goats for summer grazing in the hills. It looks like the film footage would have been taken pretty late, in the 1950s or 1960s. Country people worked hard, but they also had a lot to enjoy that’s missing from the modern urban environment.

HT: Karen L. Myers.

06 Mar 2020

Siege of the Alamo

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Robert Jenkins Onderdonk, Fall of the Alamo, 1903, Texas State Archives.

March 6, 1836: Following a thirteen-day siege, more than 2000 Mexican troops launched a pre-dawn attack from all four sides on the fortress defended by 180 men. The Mexicans were repulsed twice, but a third assault gained the north wall and broke through the west wall. After fierce fighting, the defenders were killed to a man. The casualties included Colonel William Barret Travis, James Bowie, and former Congressman from Tennessee David Crockett.

04 Mar 2020

Lost Passageway Found in British House of Parliament

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18 Feb 2020

Our National Park Service, Delivery Source of Leftism

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George Washington’s Mount Vernon.

Michael Pillsbury, in the WSJ, explains how America’s national historic sites have wound up being explained in relation to Identity Group grievances and Climate Change by people who majored in Marxism and Social Justice.

George Washington’s birthday is celebrated on Monday, so consider this thought experiment: It is 2026 and Washington and close military advisers like Alexander Hamilton return for a 250th-anniversary ride on the eight decisive battlefields where American independence was won.

At first, they might be pleasantly surprised to see the battlefields still intact. But suppose the visiting heroes lean down from their saddles to listen to the park rangers leading tours in green-and-gray uniforms. Expecting to hear a recounting of battles that formed the republic, they instead hear stories about identity politics and climate change. Hamilton, upon returning to his only home, in New York—a site that attracts thousands of visitors annually—would be taken aback to hear, as I did on a visit, park rangers editorialize that he stashed his wife there so he could carry on with his mistress in his Wall Street home.

This casual, official reinterpretation of history has alarmed many modern historians and Americans, including those like me with relatives who served at Valley Forge. In 2016, a park ranger reportedly telling tourists at Independence Hall in Philadelphia that “the Founders knew that when they left this room, what they had written wouldn’t matter very much” resulted in news articles and calls for her resignation. Rangers, however, aren’t required to stick to any script when interpreting the Revolution. Washington and Hamilton might ride on to privately owned Mount Vernon for a more authentic experience.

Traditionally, great powers trust their military forces with protecting and interpreting the sacred battlefields of their founding fathers. After the Revolutionary War, the U.S. military protected the battlefields, conducted “staff rides” to review decisions and scenarios, and encouraged private donors such as the Ladies of Mount Vernon to restore other historical places tied to Washington.

But then came the National Park Service. In the 1920s and early 1930s the NPS was a minor agency struggling for attention and already filled with what today are called environmental activists. These ideologues sought to obtain possession of the nation’s historic sites, which would raise the Park Service’s profile above that of a mere maintenance organization.

In April 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt invited Park Service Director Horace Albright for a Sunday drive along Skyline Drive, a new highway the Park Service was building in the mountains of Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park. Albright had already created a “history division” and set up historical monuments. So he took advantage of this time with the president to defeat objections from the War Department, which wanted to keep the battlefields under its purview. Mere months later, by executive order, the War Department transferred 57 historical sites and, more important, the authority to interpret the history of the sites to the Park Service. Albright saw this victory as the culmination of his career.

RTWT

02 Feb 2020

Candlemas, Demotically “Groundhog Day”

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Tintoretto, Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, 1550-1555, Gallerie dell Accademi, Venice

From Robert Chambers, The Book of Days, 1869:

From a very early, indeed unknown date in the Christian history, the 2nd of February has been held as the festival of the Purification of the Virgin, and it is still a holiday of the Church of England. From the coincidence of the time with that of the Februation or purification of the people in pagan Rome, some consider this as a Christian festival engrafted upon a heathen one, in order to take advantage of the established habits of the people; but the idea is at least open to a good deal of doubt. The popular name Candlemass is derived from the ceremony which the Church of Rome dictates to be observed on this day; namely, a blessing of candles by the clergy, and a distribution of them amongst the people, by whom they are afterwards carried lighted in solemn procession. The more important observances were of course given up in England at the Reformation; but it was still, about the close of the eighteenth century, customary in some places to light up churches with candles on this day.

At Rome, the Pope every year officiates at this festival in the beautiful chapel of the Quirinal. When he has blessed the candles, he distributes them with his own hand amongst those in the church, each of whom, going singly up to him, kneels to receive it. The cardinals go first; then follow the bishops, canons, priors, abbots, priests, &c., down to the sacristans and meanest officers of the church. According to Lady Morgan, who witnessed the ceremony in 1820:

    ‘When the last of these has gotten his candle, the poor conservatori, the representatives of the Roman senate and people, receive theirs. This ceremony over, the candles are lighted, the Pope is mounted in his chair and carried in procession, with hymns chanting, round the ante-chapel; the throne is stripped of its splendid hangings; the Pope and cardinals take off their gold and crimson dresses, put on their usual robes, and the usual mass of the morning is sung.’

Lady Morgan mentions that similar ceremonies take place in all the parish churches of Rome on this day.

It appears that in England, in Catholic times, a meaning was attached to the size of the candles, and the manner in which they burned during the procession; that, moreover, the reserved parts of the candles were deemed to possess a strong supernatural virtue:

    ‘This done, each man his candle lights,
    Where chiefest seemeth he,
    Whose taper greatest may be seen; And fortunate to be,
    Whose candle burneth clear and bright: A wondrous force and might
    Both in these candles lie, which if At any time they light,
    They sure believe that neither storm Nor tempest cloth abide,
    Nor thunder in the skies be heard, Nor any devil’s spide,
    Nor fearful sprites that walk by night,
    Nor hurts of frost or hail,’ &c.

The festival, at whatever date it took its rise, has been designed to commemorate the churching or purification of Mary; and the candle-bearing is understood to refer to what Simeon said when he took the infant Jesus in his arms, and declared that he was a light to lighten the Gentiles. Thus literally to adopt and build upon metaphorical expressions, was a characteristic procedure of the middle ages. Apparently, in consequence of the celebration of Mary’s purification by candle-bearing, it became customary for women to carry candles with them, when, after recovery from child-birth, they went to be, as it was called, churched. A remarkable allusion to this custom occurs in English history. William the Conqueror, become, in his elder days, fat and unwieldy, was confined a considerable time by a sickness. ‘Methinks,’ said his enemy the King of France, ‘the King of England lies long in childbed.’ This being reported to William, he said, ‘When I am churched, there shall be a thousand lights in France !’ And he was as good as his word; for, as soon as he recovered, he made an inroad into the French territory, which he wasted wherever he went with fire and sword.

At the Reformation, the ceremonials of Candlemass day were not reduced all at once. Henry VIII proclaimed in 1539:

    ‘On Candlemass day it shall be declared, that the bearing of candles is done in memory of Christ, the spiritual light, whom Simeon did prophesy, as it is read in. the church that day.’

It is curious to find it noticed as a custom down to the time of Charles II, that when lights were brought in at nightfall, people would say—’ God send us the light of heaven!’ The amiable Herbert, who notices the custom, defends it as not superstitious. Some-what before this time, we find. Herrick alluding to the customs of Candlemass eve: it appears that the plants put up in houses at Christmas were now removed.

    Down with the rosemary and bays,
    Down with the mistletoe;
    Instead of holly now upraise
    The greener box for show.
    The holly hitherto did sway,

    Let box now domineer,
    Until the dancing Easter day
    Or Easter’s eve appear.
    The youthful box, which now hath grace
    Your houses to renew,
    Grown old, surrender must his place
    Unto the crisped yew.
    When yew is out, then birch comes in,

    And many flowers beside,
    Both of a fresh and fragrant kin’,
    To honour Whitsuntide.
    Green rushes then, and sweetest bents,
    With cooler oaken boughs,
    Come in for comely ornaments,
    To re-adorn the house.
    Thus times do shift; each thing in turn does hold;
    New things succeed, as former things grow old.’

The same poet elsewhere recommends very particular care in the thorough removal of the Christmas garnishings on this eve:

    ‘That so the superstitious find
    No one least branch left there behind;
    For look, how many leaves there be
    Neglected there, maids, trust to me,
    So many goblins you shall see.’

He also alludes to the reservation of part of the candles or torches, as calculated to have the effect of protecting from mischief:

    ‘Kindle the Christmas brand, and then
    Till sunset let it burn,
    Which quenched, then lay it up again, Till Christmas next return.
    Part must be kept, wherewith to tend
    The Christmas log next year;
    And where ‘tis safely kept, the fiend Can do no mischief there.’

Considering the importance attached to Candlemass day for so many ages, it is scarcely surprising that there is a universal superstition throughout Christendom, that good weather on this day indicates a long continuance of winter and a bad crop, and that its being foul is, on the contrary, a good omen. Sir Thomas Browne, in his Vulgar Errors, quotes a Latin distich expressive of this idea:

    ‘Si sol splendescat Maria purificante,
    Major erit glacies post festum quam fait ante;

which maybe considered as well translated in the popular Scottish rhyme:

    If Candlemass day be dry and fair,
    The half o’ winter’s to come and mair;
    If Candlemass day be wet and foul,
    The half o’ winter’s gave at Yule.’

In Germany there are two proverbial expressions on this subject: 1. The shepherd would rather see the wolf enter his stable on Candlemass day than the sun; 2. The badger peeps out of his hole on Candlemass day, and when he finds snow, walks abroad; but if he sees the sun shining, he draws back into his hole. It is not improbable that these notions, like the festival of Candlemass itself, are derived from pagan times, and have existed since the very infancy of our race. So at least we may conjecture, from a curious passage in Martin’s Description of the Western Islands. On Candlemass day, according to this author, the Hebrideans observe the following curious custom:

The mistress and servants of each family take a sheaf of oats and dress it up in women’s apparel, put it in a large basket, and lay a wooden club by it, and this they call Bríd’s Bed.; and then the mistress and servants cry three times, “Bríd is come; Bríd is welcome!” This they do just before going to bed, and when they rise in the morning they look among the ashes, expecting to see the impression of Bríd’s club there; which, if they do, they reckon it a true presage of a good crop and prosperous year, and the contrary they take as an ill omen.

———————————————————————-

Groundhog Day is simply a modern commercialized adaptation of the earlier weather traditions associated with the Christian feast day.

02 Feb 2020

Candlemas Eve by Robert Herrick, Sung by Kate Rusby

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DOWN with rosemary and bayes,
Down with the mistleto,
Instead of holly, now up-raise
The greener box, for show.

The holly hitherto did sway;
Let box now domineere,
Until the dancing Easter-day,
Or Easter’s eve appeare.

Then youthful box, which now hath grace
Your houses to renew,
Grown old, surrender must his place
Unto the crisped yew.

When yew is out, then birch comes in,
And many flowers beside,
Both of a fresh and fragrant kinne
To honor Whitsontide.

Green rushes then, and sweetest bents,
With color oken boughs,
Come in for comely ornaments,
To re-adorn the house.
Thus times do shift; each thing his turn does hold;
New things succeed as former things grow old.

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