Monday, February 18, 2013

Washington's Birthday


It's time for a cup of tea! Join me, and let's wish George Washington a Happy Birthday!

There seems to be a bit of confusion over this wonderful February holiday beloved by Tasha Tudor, and I admit I was confused myself. Some call it President's Day, some use the inclusive Presidents' Day, some call it Washington Day, or Washington's Birthday, but it isn't even Washington's birthday proper. Since Tasha was so interested in this historically significant day because it held not only a delicious cake, but also because her own family history is entwined, I thought we should sleuth out the truth. Here is what I learned:

~George Washington's actual birthday is February 22nd. (born: 1732; died: December 14, 1799)
~Observance of George Washington's birthday began around 1880. 
~However, back in the early 1970s, when lawmakers decided to create three-day weekends with such holidays, moving them to fall on Mondays, Washington's Birthday was moved to be celebrated on the third Monday of the month, regardless of the actual day's date. 
~The day is legally known by the federal government as "Washington's Birthday" and is not called "Presidents' Day" by the US government. Here is the note on the US Office of Personnel Management page: "This holiday is designated as "Washington’s Birthday" in section 6103(a) of title 5 of the United States Code, which is the law that specifies holidays for Federal employees. Though other institutions such as state and local governments and private businesses may use other names, it is our policy to always refer to holidays by the names designated in the law."
~There is no official day known as "Presidents' Day" although some people prefer to call the third-Monday-of-February holiday by such a name. Lincoln's birthday also falls in February. 
~Tasha Tudor tells the story of her family's connection to George Washington and the family memories of this day on page 80 of The Tasha Tudor Cookbook.

Tasha Tudor's original illustration of Washington Pie at tea, The Tasha Tudor Cookbook, page 80

So now we know a few more details, though I suppose we haven't really settled anything, because you can still choose to celebrate on the third Monday of February or on the 22nd, though Tasha preferred the 22nd. Regardless, we can focus on the delicious treat of the day: Washington Pie! If you haven't already created your cake (even though it is called a pie; much like Boston Cream Pie), you still have a few days to gather ingredients for the actual birthday on the 22nd. And should you feel inspired to decorate your tea time party like Tasha, with "fake cherries that glistened beautifully, thirteen-star flags, and such an array of sweets! Oh my!"

Happy Birthday, George Washington!
~Natalie

7 comments:

  1. We will have a lovely(warm) tea time( its cold outside!) this afternoon, a much earned break , after we dig into two flower gardens to plant Sweet Peas on Presidents day, a tradition. Tea and treat and reading this blog to look forward to! ~ Happy Presidents Day TTAF ~ PK

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  2. Hello, Well, that sounds like a good idea to plant sweet peas on Washington's birthday! Going to do it! Warmest regards, Kenlynne White
    Perhaps we will meet in June on the tour!

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  3. my Italian daddy who is in heaven today was named after George W,he was an artist of every kind mostly mosaic in the last years of his life .Still miss them both mom was born the 21st he the 22 they died a day apart from each other 4 years apart this time .You are so generous with your give aways .God bless you this coming spring .mary t

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  4. My daddy nicolas george was born on 22 so we always remembered him, as a child growing up with a dad who was a nature artist we had many of the same adventures .Hope this spring brings more joy to your family ,mary t

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  5. Happy George Washington Day - we always had cherry pie. Have to get some cherries tomorrow. The snow kept me home today.

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  6. DEAR NATALIE, I HAVE DISCOVERED A FEW MONTHS AGO TO TASHA TUDOR, AND NOW I THINK AS I HAVE FORMERLY LIVED WITHOUT KNOWING IT, MY WAY OF THINKING IS VERY SIMILAR TO IT AND I LOVE TO SEE THAT THERE ARE PEOPLE SO SIMILAR. MATALIE YOUR BLOG IS REALLY BEAUTIFUL, I HOPE TO FOLLOW IT A LOT TIME SINCE IT IS A GREAT INCENTIVE FOR ME.FROM SPAIN A BIG HUG.
    Mª CARMEN DUQUE

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  7. When I was in elementary school, we got February 12 off for Lincoln and February 22 off for Washington. When it became President's Day, we thought they just decided to combine the two dates into a Monday holiday. I am fascinated to learn that the government doesn't call it President's Day and that it really is just for Washington's Birthday! Thanks for the research, Natalie.

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