Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Happy Birthday, Felicity!

Hey Followers!
     So last week (April 21st) was Felicity's birthday in her series. So I wanted to celebrate by writing about the history of birthday celebrations in the 18th century. If you try to google info on 18th Century birthday celebrations... you won't find much. Reason being is that birthday parties for common people were fairly new at this point in time. Although the first recorded birthday celebrations were from ancient Egypt, these celebrations were only for coronations of Pharaohs because it was believed that when a man became a Pharaoh, he became a god. So it was like they were "born again" so to speak. Ancient Greeks and Romans celebrated the birthday of their moon goddess, Artemis by having cakes covered in candles (which was said to be the reason why today's celebration tradition of blowing out candles on a cake evolved.) In a book titled, "The Lore of Birthdays" it says "The Greeks believed that everyone had a protective spirit or daemon who attended his birth and watched over him in life. This spirit had a mystic relation with the god on whose birthday the individual was born. The Romans also subscribed to this idea. . . . This notion was carried down in human belief and is reflected in the guardian angel, the fairy godmother and the patron saint. . . . The custom of lighted candles on the cakes started with the Greeks. . . . Honey cakes round as the moon and lit with tapers were placed on the temple altars of [Artemis]. . . . Birthday candles, in folk belief, are endowed with special magic for granting wishes. . . . Lighted tapers and sacrificial fires have had a special mystic significance ever since man first set up altars to his gods. The birthday candles are thus an honor and tribute to the birthday child and bring good fortune..." 
     Christians in the early middle ages believed that celebrating birthdays were a sin. They did however celebrate their "saints day" which is the day of the saint in which they were named after. Eventually Christians decided it was okay to celebrate birthdays (i.e. Christmas), but in the middle ages, it normally just royalty that celebrated their birthdays. But at this time.. they weren't exactly celebrations. It was believed that evil spirits were after people on their birthdays and these celebrations were meant to scare off the spirits and protect the person who's birthday it was. So friends and family would use noise makers and sing songs to be noisy to "protect" the person. Gifts were also given for good luck!
     As time went on, birthday celebrations slowly became more popular but around the late 18th century, the Germans began to celebrate what they called Kinderfeste. This holds the closest resemblance to the modern birthday parties. German children would get a cake with the same amount of candles as their age plus one more to represent the year to come. Blowing out the candles and making a wish would follow.
     I was hoping I could find a good example of an actual 18th century birthday party in the Colonies but I have had no luck. In Felicity's book, Happy Birthday, Felicity her family celebrates her birthday by eating fancy cakes and drinking hot chocolate. The room was decorated with many flowers and Felicity's mother set out her finest china. She was gifted a guitar from her grandfather that once belonged to her grandmother. Although there isn't much record of it... I would assume most birthday celebrations in the colonies were similar to this.
     Well I hope you found this to be interesting! Make sure to follow so you don't miss out on anything and feel free to follow me on Instagram as well!


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Addy Studies Freedom: The Last Days of the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln

Hey Followers!

     I want to shine the spotlight on Addy Walker this week and in particular, the short story Addy Studies Freedom. As most of you know, Addy was born into a time where most African American's like herself were slaves. Forced into a certain way of life and would have very devastating consequences if any of them tried to change the life they were in. In Addy's first book, her family and herself were whipped, Addy was held down as a "master" shoved grubs into her mouth for not doing her job up to his standards, and her family was sold and separated. This was not just stories from a book of fiction. This was very similar to the hell slaves were put through.
     Addy's family was able to escape to the northern "free states" and make a better life for themselves. Many other slaves were able to accomplish this too but a lot more were not able to. By the end of Addy's main book series, the Civil War came to an end and all slaves were from then on.. free. And all of this comes back to one man, A man that was brave enough to tell people that slavery was wrong and put an end to it. A man who spoke these famous words....

     Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

      Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

     But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Those words were spoken by President Abraham Lincoln.


      I was born and raised in Indiana, The birthplace of Abe Lincoln. So being raised there, being taught about him seemed to be a mandatory thing and because of that I have always been very fond of our 16th president. Today (April 14th 2015), marks 150 years since his assassination, tomorrow (April 15th) marks 150 years since his death and just a few days ago (April 9th 2015) marked the 150th anniversary of the end of the civil war. These three monumental events in our history happened right during Addy's time and impacted everyone in a big way. Addy even picked April 9th as her chosen birthday after receiving the news that slavery was no more.

Gen. Robert E. Lee
      Although the General of the Confederate Army, Robert E. Lee, surrendered on April 9, 1865, the fighting did not stop completely until November 6th 1865 and Lincoln's successor, President Andrew Johnson did not formally declare the end of the war until August 20th of the following year. But the surrender of E.Lee was the start of the ripple effect that follows on the timeline of the end of the American Civil War.
     The celebrations were short lived though. Just five days later on April 14th, President Lincoln and his wife Mary Todd went to Fords Theatre in Washington D.C. to watch the play Our American Cousin. At about 10:15pm, a man named John Wilkes Booth snuck up behind the President and shot him in the back of the head. Mary Todd Lincoln screamed in horror when she realized what had happened to her husband. One of Lincoln's guests in the theatre box with him, Major Henry Rathbone attempted to catch Booth before he escaped, in turn Booth violently stabbed at the Major with a knife, wounding him badly on the arm. Rathbone ignored his injuries and continued to grab at Booth. Unfortunately, Booth did escape by jumping off the balcony and landing on the stage (breaking his leg in the process). Because Booth was a well known actor, the audience thought that Booth jumping onto the stage was part of the performance. It was not until Major Rathbone shouted "Stop that man!" that the crowd realized that this was not a part of the play but by then, it was too late. Booth escaped on horseback.
      The President was brought across the street to the Petersen Boarding House and was looked after by six physicians and the surgeon general of the US Army. They all agreed that there was nothing to be done. One of the physicians, Charles Leale was said to have held his hand the rest of the night. He later said, "I held his hand firmly to let him know, in his blindness, that he had a friend."
      At 7:22am the next morning, Lincoln was pronounced dead. 
   In Addy Studies Freedom, Addy gets word of the presidents death when she enters her local butcher shop and notices that a woman in the shop is crying. The butcher tells Addy that she is crying because President Lincoln had been killed. On her way back home, Addy see's that everyone is upset and some crying. Now this was very much true in real life as well. Citizens of the North mourned greatly the death of the President. In the year we live in now... I cannot even begin to imagine having a president so loved that people wept in the streets for him. That is something that should show you what a kind hearted man he actually was.

       On April 21st 1865, Lincolns casket was boarded in Washington DC onto a decorated train pulled by an engine called The Old Nashville. The train passed through 444 communities in 7 states. It took 12 days for the train to reach Springfield, IL where his final resting place is. (Which means Lincoln was not buried until 18 days after his death..bleh!) 
Map of Route the Lincoln Train took.
   In Addy Studies Freedom, Addy pays her respects to the late President when the train stops in Philadelphia. 

But the day before the public viewing, there is a grand funeral parade down the streets of Philadelphia. It says this Addy Studies Freedom that Addy and her family watched from the rooftops. This also happened in real life, the streets were so crowded that some were forced to watch from their rooftops as you can see in this actual picture of Philadelphia during Lincolns funeral. 
The next morning, Addy and her poppa got up at 5am to get in line at the state house to view Lincolns body. During their wait, the line had moments of chaos where people pushed and shoved and things got out of control. They had finally made it to Lincolns casket around supper time. Have you ever been to an amusement park and had to wait and hour or two in line just to ride it? Well if you have, you know how miserable it is. Now imagine waiting 12 hours or so! I know it would have been well worth it though. Addy remarked that the presidents face look "serene" which actually was a very common comment from actual people who got the opportunity to see Lincolns body. 
So my final words on this book... I love the historical accurateness, even in the smallest details. It really helped you feel what people like Addy felt when these things were happening. They had just gotten word that the war had ended and slavery was no more and then with word that Lincoln was murdered, people started to worry if things would go back to the way they were before. But just like Addy's poppa said in the book, Lincoln made the first step and people were following. One of his most famous quotes says, "Be sure to put your feet in the right place and stand firm."      



Saturday, April 4, 2015

Felicity's Guitar: History of 18th Century Music for Women

Hey followers!

Lute identical to Felicity's
       I recently purchased Felicity's Guitar on Ebay and was able to get it for under $25 (shipping included) so I was pretty happy with that. It is a lower end price. The guitar I bought is the 2nd version so it is not the real wood version. One day I will get the first edition but for now I am happy with this one. In the book Happy Birthday Felicity, she was given this guitar by her grandfather.
        There were many instruments available in the 18th century, but for a woman the selection was limited. A woman had to maintain a certain reputation and I guess most instruments were not considered lady-like. So the approved instruments were the harpsichord and spinet (both similar to the piano), harp, English guitar, bass violin (like a cello) and the Lute. After researching a bit, I have come to the conclusion that Felicity's instrument is probably in fact, a lute.
        Back to the subject of instruments woman were allowed or not allowed to play, I found a hilarious myth. Apparently it was not lady-like to play a flute or a violin because showing your elbows was indecent, but after looking more into it. There is not a lot of evidence to back up that theory. Firstly, there are many dresses made with short sleeves in Georgian times. Another thing is it was know that women would roll up their sleeves when they would work, exposing their elbows.
        So why were the violins considered to be not lady-like? An 18th century woman and music enthusiast named Hester Lynch Piozzi had a theory that she silently admitted in her diary..
"How the Women do shine [in music] of late! . . . Madame Gautherot’s wonderful Execution on the Fiddle; — but say the Critics a Violin is not an Instrument for Ladies to manage, very likely! I remember when they said the same Thing of a Pen."

         Was it true that the men did not want a woman to be better at something than they are? Huh..I guess men have not changed in over 200 years. Ha! Anyways... I also found another quote from an 18th century author named John Essex who's theory is kind of odd if you ask me, he writes..

 “The Harpsicord, Spinnet, Lute and Base Violin, are Instruments most agreeable to the Ladies: There are some others that really are unbecoming the Fair Sex; as the Flute, Violin and Hautboy [oboe]; the last of which is too Manlike, and would look indecent in a woman’s mouth; and the Flute is very improper, as taking away too much of the Juices, which are otherwise more necessarily employ’d, to promote the Appetite, and assist Digestion. Musick is certainly a very great Accomplishment to the Ladies; it refines the Taste, polishes the Mind; and is an Entertainment, without other Views, that preserves them fron the Rust of Idleness, that most pernicious Enemy to Virtue.”  

              So my conclusion on why women were not encouraged to play the violin or flute...Men. It was because of men. Not elbows.
              So I was looking through videos on YouTube for people playing lutes and I was quite impressed. It has such a beautiful and soothing sound. I could probably listen to it all day long. Here is an example of a woman playing a lute. Her version is a renaissance lute. You may have seen this instrument often in movies played in medieval and renaissance times, played by the minstrels and court jesters. I always think about the part in Sleeping Beauty when the minstrel boy kept filling his lute with wine when the kings were not watching.

             Wasn't that a beautiful sound? Well let me wrap this up by telling you quickly about Felicity's Guitar (or Lute?). The original version was made out of real wood. This version is not. It is some sort of wood replacement, feels like the stuff that fake hardwood floors are made of. The back of the guitar is a rounded shape. There are four strings made of a thick plastic, if you strum the strings it sounds sort of like a ukulele. The tuning knobs are non functional and the strap is a pink ribbon (the first version had a burgundy colored ribbon).     

         I hope you have learned something new and interesting in this post! Make sure to follow so you won't miss a single thing! Also follow me on Instagram @Faithful.Friends.Forever.Be 


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Felicity's Summer Outfit: Part 1~History of the Bergere hat

Hey hey hey!
       Spring is here and summer is right around the corner! I have decided that I will focus my buying around the season and since it is getting warm I am focusing around Felicity's Spring (birthday) and Summer collections, that way I am more organized and don't get crazy with buying... thus far its been hard passing up good deals but it will be better this way!
       Anyways I recently bought Felicity's Summer Gown which is one of my favorites! I got it for around $52 (shipping included) and it came with a copy of the book Welcome To Felicity's World, which I already owned so I sold that for $12 so really I got it for around $40. I am pretty happy with that because it can be a very pricey outfit, usually never under $50.
       I love everything about this outfit. The pure white gown makes me want to wear it and run through a field of flowers or something. The blue sash around the waist is just the perfect amount of color and the perfect touch to make it look so elegant. The shoes are great! I love that they chose to make a shoe for this outfit that goes with the bright and elegant theme it has, but by far the best thing about this dress is that hat. I love the hat so much. So I decided that this hat is the focus of this post. I will be posting a 2nd part to this to focus on the brocade shoes, another very beautiful peice of wardrobe history.
       This particular style of hat first appeared around the 1730s and is called a Bergere. In french this means "shepherdess." Sometimes this hat is also called a "milkmaid hat." And then there are some that believe that it was named after Madame Bergeret who was painted in a 1766 painting by Francois Boucher, holding this style of hat. This isn't the only painting that features this style though, there are many many more because of its popularity in the 18th century. The Bergere style held its fame even past the 18th century, there are forms of this hat worn late into the 19th century as well. A good example is when a character from the Charles Dickens novel Barnaby Rudge, named Dolly Varden, inspired this style to come back once again. The fad inspired some popular songs too.
Have you seen my little girl? She doesn’t wear a bonnet.

She’s got a monstrous flip-flop hat with cherry ribbons on it.
She dresses in bed furniture just like a flower garden

A blowin’ and a growin’ and they call it Dolly Varden.

More modern examples of the more extravagant Gainsborough hat
        Another form of this hat is a "Gainsborough" or "picture" hat. This style tends to be a more larger, fancy and more extravagant hat. It was popular with socialites like Marie Antoinette and the Duchess of Devonshire in the 18th century. Then pretty much has kept its reputation since then. The hat has made appearances in movies like the 1941 film Toppers Return, the 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffanys and the pictured My Fair Lady. This hat is still worn often by the woman of the royal family in Wales (pictured Dutchess Kate Middleton). Also the official hat of the Kentucky Derby.

        In the 18th century, it was not ladylike to leave the house without wearing some sort of headwear and back then... it wasn't attractive to have a tan, nor was it attractive to have freckles so having a hat like the bergere was a necessity during the summer. So what is the proper way to wear this hat? Well through my research I found that there are many ways to wear this... The most popular way is with the ribbons tied around the back of the head. This way typically has the brims folded down.

But sometimes the brims were left straight...

Another way is with the back brim folded up.

And tied under the chin...

Just like I have chosen with Felicity during her photo shoot today!

I hope you guys have enjoyed this as much as I did. It was so fun looking up pictures of all the different beautiful hats, all unique in their own way. And it was so fun taking pictures of Felicity in this outfit, she is stunning in this gown. Be sure to follow this blog so you won't miss any future posts and come back next week and I will have part two of this! 

Follow me on Instagram! @Faithful.Friends.Forever.Be