Visitor Center. Valley Forge National Park. 9:30 AM. December 31, 2015.
Fun fact: I’ve been looking to find out how George Washington and the troops celebrated New Year’s at Valley Forge but haven’t turned up anything so far. I did learn something new though. January 1, 1778 was only the twenty-seventh time in Washington’s lifetime that the new year began on January 1. Officially. Until 1752, the year Washington turned twenty, according to the calendar used in England and its colonies, the new year began on March 25, more or less at the end of winter or the beginning of spring, depending on how you look at it or how they did back then. Which makes more astronomical and even poetic sense, when you think about it. The year progressed with the seasons. Except that the reason wasn’t seasonal or astronomical. It was religious. March 25 was the Feast of the Annunciation. “Lady Day.” Of course, since nobody knows when Gabriel showed up to tell Mary how blessed she was among women, that date was probably chosen by the Church to supplant a pagan celebration of the spring equinox. The question I’d like answered is why Protestant England stuck with March 25 long after most of Catholic Europe had gone back to the date Julius Caesar had set when he’d reformed the calendar. The other odd thing is that while according to the calendar the English used until 1752 the new year officially began on March 25, people celebrated New Year’s Day on January 1 as one of the Twelve Days of Christmas. So Washington and his troops at Valley Forge probably celebrated as traditionally as they had the provisions to manage and it’s extremely unlikely that any of the soldiers turned to each other and said, “Remember how we used to celebrate New Year’s Day in the spring?”, although some pedantic middle-aged sergeant might have said to an immediately bored and inwardly groaning eighteen year old private, “Did you know that when I was your age…?”
Anyway, the pedantic middle-aged sergeant in you can read more about the history of New Year’s day at EarthSky. Meanwhile, from all of us here at the Old Blonde Family Cottage, myself, Mrs M, Ken, Oliver, and Old Mother and Father Blonde, Happy New Year!