Tag Archives: French Quarter

On Thursday, September 17, 2015—I spoke to the New Orleans City Council….

in my ideas: I spoke (for a whopping three minutes) at the City Council on Thursday morning and stated that the monuments should be protected by Federal Law under the 1969 National Environmental Policy and Protection Act, especially its “Cultural Resource Management” provisions and the National Historic Preservation Act.
I suggested to Councilwoman-at-Large Stacy Head, and the Council that an initial Environmental Assessment (E.A.) and Environmental Impact Statement (E.I.S.) should prepared concerning the physical and social environment of New Orleans. I would go so far as to suggest that the French Quarter and Garden District, at the very least, should be declared part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
So, I agree in principal that the monuments should be protected under Federal Law, but I do believe that all the monuments themselves rest on New Orleans Corporate (i.e. City owned) or Parish Property rather than Federal Property. I know of only one “National Park” within the City of New Orleans, namely the Jean Lafitte National Park…. If you know differently, please private message me and we can talk.
I met and introduced Tim Shea Carroll to the Archivist of the Clerk of Court, and I know he inquired about deed restrictions on the Beauregard Monument. If anything, there may be private servitudes under Louisiana Civil Code Law that control or should control the disposition of these monuments.
Landrieu has raised all this under New Orleans “Nuissance” Law, and “Nuissance Law” is fundamentally about land use and public policy—-I strongly contend that NEPA and NHSPA federally PREEMPT State and Local Nuissance Ordinances, but even just applying the Civil Code Law of Nuissance, I don’t think Landrieu’s position has any validity.

33 Years (and one week) was a Long Ice Age Lifetime—May 11, 1980 to May 18, 2013—has been 33 Years and One Week

According to my old professor of Biological Anthropology, Erik Trinkaus, from whom I took several of the most amazing courses I ever had during my graduate career, Ice Age Humans (Neanderthals or Cro-Magnons) in France, Europe, and the Near East did not typically live as long as I have to date (53 years).  In fact, life expectancies were probably less than 30 years for both males and females, and if we have more burial data from older individuals, it is because anyone who lived beyond 40 was practically a godlike object of ancestor worship (OK, that’s my embellishment, not anything Erik ever actually said.  But for what Erik Trinkaus’ “thumbnail” summary opinion was, see an article which cited him in the New York Times, just for a casual and basically random example: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/11/science/11obneanderthal.html?_r=0).

So it is with shock, awe, and dismay that I realize now that I graduated from the College of Arts & Sciences at Tulane University 33 years and one week ago as of May 18, 2013.  That day is also illuminated by the following historical trivia:

Saturday, May 18, 2013

On this date:

Montreal, Quebec, was founded in 1642

The Siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi, began in 1863

Plessy v. Fergusson was decided in 1896

Haley’s Comet Passed by the Earth in 1910

Franklin D. Roosevelt created the Tennessee Valley Authority in 1933

Apollo 10 blasted off in 1969

Mount St. Helens’ Volcano in Washington Exploded in 1980

I graduated from Tulane University on May 11, 1980, 33 years and 1 week ago today—Oh yeah, I guess I already mentioned that….

Montreal being founded was a good thing.  Montreal is a really nice city (lots of cute little French-Canadian girls up there, and the food is great too).   I hear Vicksburg was OK before the siege, but it got kind of boring afterwards.   As for the TVA—well, I have heard the TVA was such a success that they never dared to repeat it, which is just as well, because it was essentially just another Communist-Marxist-Stalinist 5 year plan that has now lasted 80 years…. Now that’s a REALLY long time for a 5 year plan to go on….. Aside from the Federal Reserve Banking System, the TVA is the United States Government’s largest “privately” owned corporation.  That is confusing, isn’t it: how can the U.S. Government own anything privately?  Well, the TVA is set up as a private corporation, it’s employees are not US Government employees, but it is wholly owned by the Government.  In other words, the TVA operates as even even more of a “private, closely held” corporation than (a) the Virginia Company, (b) the Massachusetts Bay Company, (c) the Hudson’s Bay Company, or (d) the British East India Company ever was until after the Sepoy Mutiny let to the annexation of India to the Crown as an “Empire.”  But the sole owner of the TVA is the U.S. Government, so it’s a private corporation owned by the largest and most powerful public entity (the U.S. Government) in the world.

Anyhow, I deeply resent the passage of time.   As “the Preacher, the son of David, King in Jerusalem” wrote in the Book of Ecclesiastes:

Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.

What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?

One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.

The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.

The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits.

All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.

All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.

The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.

10 Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.

11 There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after.

At least verse five gave Hemingway a good idea for a memorable title for one of his novels….some obscure travelogue about Spanish Bullfights in Pamplona.  I think there was a precociously slutty British socialite, a Rich American Jew, a War Veteran, a couple of drunken Scots, an underage Spanish Bullfighter who ends up with the aristocratic slut……

There’s also a holographic mirror at Antoine’s Restaurant in one of the private side rooms (in the New Orleans French Quarter on St. Louis) called “All is Vanity“—it’s a picture of an exquisitely beautiful young lady, probably a close relation of those French-Canadian girls from Montreal mentioned above, whose face when seen from a different angle turns into a rather frightening death’s head skeletal neck-on-shoulder with skull still in place.  And like unto that image, the inscription over so many rural Mexican cemeteries: “Aquí se Acaba el Orgullo Mundial” (Here Endeth Earthly Pride—compare also “Under the Volcano“—both the book and the movie).

As of the 33 years that have passed since my graduation Phi Beta Kappa, Magna cum Laude, from Tulane.  Well, “what profit” indeed have I to show for my labour?   I suppose I have learned a lot.  But have I put it to good use?  Continuing from the first Chapter of Ecclesiastes:

13 And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith.

14 I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.

15 That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbered.

16 I communed with mine own heart, saying, Lo, I am come to great estate, and have gotten more wisdom than all they that have been before me in Jerusalem: yea, my heart had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.

17 And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly: I perceived that this also is vexation of spirit.

18 For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow

Have I accumulated a large estate?  No and No.  I suppose, in all honesty, thanks in large part to my failed marriage and related matters: I have BLOWN a large estate sky high.   That’s an accomplishment of sorts I guess, which certainly not everyone has had the opportunity to do.

I finished a doctoral dissertation at Harvard which was immediately accepted for publication but I didn’t get around to publishing it in a timely manner and now the Peabody Museum isn’t willing to publish it under the original terms as Peabody Memoir 20 unless I completely rewrite it and resubmit it and get it approved for publication.  In other words, essentially, if I do my doctoral research (why not my doctorate?) all over again.

At the end of my 52nd I got a chipped tooth and developed dental problems which remind me of the human osteology class I had with Erik Trinkaus, using Gray’s Anatomy  (the Classic Medical School Anatomy text and reference book, not the TV soft-porn prime-time soap opera series).   I developed this broken molar problem in New Orleans.  That’s the only saving grace.  I’m finally living back in my favorite city in the USA, albeit as something of a perpetual tourist rather than a real resident (at least I go to Church more regularly than most tourists who come here, I dare say).

And in that connexion, talking of Church, today was the Feast of the Pentecost, and I have to say I think that Christ Church Cathedral on St. Charles did a better job of making Pentecost memorable than I have ever seen anywhere.  They had red-ribbon banners and parasols (and/or Chinese lanterns) representing the tongues of fire through which the Holy Ghost entered the Apostles, giving them the ability to speak in tongues.  The Church was generally draped in Red, and since I was a very small child, Red has basically been my favorite colour (my exceedingly conservative grandmother Helen worried that I might turn out a communist—but I didn’t).

And the Psalm today I noticed on Thursday when I went to the mid-day mass on my first day back from Florida.  It was Psalm 104 and it was not appointed for Thursday, but for some reason I opened the Book of Common Prayer and fixated on that Psalm, and it was the Psalm for this beautiful Sunday Service after the reading from the Book of Acts concerning the first Pentacost and the first spontaneous translations of the Gospel by the Apostles….: 

104 Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty.

Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain:

Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters: who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind:

Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire:

Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever.

Thou coveredst it with the deep as with a garment: the waters stood above the mountains.

At thy rebuke they fled; at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away.

They go up by the mountains; they go down by the valleys unto the place which thou hast founded for them.

Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over; that they turn not again to cover the earth.

10 He sendeth the springs into the valleys, which run among the hills.

11 They give drink to every beast of the field: the wild asses quench their thirst.

12 By them shall the fowls of the heaven have their habitation, which sing among the branches.

13 He watereth the hills from his chambers: the earth is satisfied with the fruit of thy works.

14 He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth;

15 And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man’s heart.

16 The trees of the Lord are full of sap; the cedars of Lebanon, which he hath planted;

17 Where the birds make their nests: as for the stork, the fir trees are her house.

18 The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats; and the rocks for the conies.

19 He appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knoweth his going down.

20 Thou makest darkness, and it is night: wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth.

21 The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God.

22 The sun ariseth, they gather themselves together, and lay them down in their dens.

23 Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the evening.

24 O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.

25 So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts.

26 There go the ships: there is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein.

27 These wait all upon thee; that thou mayest give them their meat in due season.

28 That thou givest them they gather: thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good.

29 Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust.

30 Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth.

31 The glory of the Lord shall endure for ever: the Lord shall rejoice in his works.

32 He looketh on the earth, and it trembleth: he toucheth the hills, and they smoke.

33 I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.

34 My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the Lord.

35 Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth, and let the wicked be no more. Bless thou the Lord, O my soul. Praise ye the Lord.

There’s that wonderfully melancholy but self-absorbed song in Jesus Christ Superstar about the spiritual transformation of the 12.  It’s called “Always Dreamed that I’d be an Opossum” or something like that (they’re all drunk while Jesus is waiting to be arrested).  A totally appropriate thought for Pentecost, I suppose….

Equally blasphemous is my question about Psalm 104: WHY would God have created “the Leviathan….to play therein?”  (or in a more modern translation “the Leviathan, who thou created just for sport”).  Some passages in the Bible are so hard to deal with…. But on the whole Psalm 104 is so beautiful, and so evocative of the natural balance of the world.   All those lions eating other creatures at night and stuff—“It’s the CIRCLE, the Circle of Life….”

February 1—Saint Brigit’s Day (Brigit of Kildare), February 2—Candlemas or Presentation of the Lord Jesus in the Temple (now only remembered as “Groundhog Day”)—but February 3 is the real Religious Holiday in US—SUPER BOWL SUNDAY! Panem circensesque….

Has it really already been six full weeks, the first intercardinal of the year 2013, since the world was supposed to end on December 21, 2012?  Some predict (I would say pray for) a major disaster this weekend, another 9-11 to catapult us into yet another war.  I certainly wouldn’t be surprised—Sandy Hook and the Batman shootings not having had quite sufficient effect yet….sufficient effect to inspire Americans to surrender the ragged shreds of their last constitutional rights….  

I make no secret of the fact that I love New Orleans at the same time that I do not completely share in all its vices.  I love the French Quarter, but I do not drink (“well, hardly ever”), having burnt the candle at both ends (unrelated to Candlemas) a little bit too much in my undergraduate days here at Tulane and my early graduate career at Harvard.  I do not miss getting drunk even one little bit, but take great glee at watching all the unwashed masses get plastered all over town here, most especially on Bourbon Street (talking of unwashed masses—it’s not JUST an expression you know—most of those folks are…..unwashed is just putting it mildly.  

But drinking itself is a ritual of as much ancient dignity as Dionysus and the Eleusinian Mysteries, Bacchus and Comus, or even of Jesus at the Wedding in Cana, or Jesus at the Last Supper.  There is ONLY Vice and no ancient dignity, however, in Football or the Superbowl, or the hundreds of thousands who have converged on New Orleans to watch two rows of (mostly) black men wearing gigantic amounts of padding and helmets crash into each other like two rows of opposing tractors (without any mud).

And this is the true high holiday of America’s Great Unwashed—Superbowl Sunday—and the masses have poured into New Orleans.  Some cynics think that Obama might want to use this occasion to stage another “False Flag” simulated terrorist event this Sunday (1) to finally light the fire under a possible war with Iran and (2) to wipe out a good number of White, Football Loving Red State Republican Rednecks who’ve come to the Big Easy to drown their sorrows and forget Obama has been tragically elected to a second term.  

I have previously compared the unending parade of slightly demented, drunken and debauched revelers on Bourbon Street to the mediaeval “Wild Hunt” or “Night Riders” processions known from history (and ethnohistory, notably Carlo Ginzburg’s brilliant “Night Battles.”  But there is no conscious awareness of anything except booze and flesh, alcoholic intoxication and sexual arousal, on Bourbon Street today, and these are the “values” celebrated by the Football Religion, especially but not at all limited to SuperBowl Sunday in that most unholy modern Coliseum or Circus Maximus: the New Orleans Super Dome.

We plainly live in a new era of Bread and Circuses, every bit as brutal as the Ancient Roman and futuristic Hunger Games models… I have despised Football my entire life and don’t mind saying so ESPECIALLY when I see this town invaded by the teaming hoards of seemingly brain dead football fanatics.  I don’t exactly know how the religion of football fulfills the needs of the people EXCEPT as grotesque gladiatorial entertainment.  

My grandfather Al preserved an idealized notion of what football was and represented until he died.  I don’t think he quite fully realized, or if he realized he simply could not accept, how totally different modern professional football was and remains from the completely amateur college football of his youth, of Harvard-Yale and Army-Navy games that were the center of all educated attention.  For my grandfather, American Football represented ideals of teamsmanship and strategy—“military tactics” writ small and peacefully (by comparison), with no corrupt politics intervening.

But the economic corruption of football is directly akin to the corruption of Christmas and everything else.  Only money, only corporate profits, seem to matter in America (or anywhere in the “developed” world) anymore.

But to my mind, the worst feature of the “Religion of Football” is that it occupies the minds of the great majority of people in this country and so permits them to avoid learning, focusing, on the grim and horrible realities of life here, of the decadence of absolutely everything.  Yes, Football is Modern Corporate Religion, nothing more but certainly nothing less.  A religion of Welfare and Entertainment run amok.  The people here for the event will all go to worship in the Superdome (while Tens of Millions Watch at Home) and pray for ….. more corporate profits to support the Socialist Government?

The Year’s and the Day’s Deep Midnight—aka the Solstice—Longest Night and the Shortest Day, with thoughts on John Donne, Samuel Pepys, King Charles II, and the 1751 Calendar Act—but December 21 was the night we always used to put up the Christmas Tree as Advent came to an end…..from this day forward, the Sun Returns to Us….

Today we think about Calendars—-a large number of misguided souls believe that today has some great mystical significance in the Maya Calendar.  Some people even think the world might end today.  Some people think “it’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.”  I actually DO feel OK, come to think of it—I’m here in beautiful New Orleans, and nothing anywhere could be finer or sweeter than to savor this day in this spot and from this vantage point in the French Quarter.

But the Solstice is a fine day to think about the Calendar regardless of the correlation or miscorrelation of the Maya Calendar.  I honestly do not believe that the Aztec Fifth Sun (Nahui Ollin = “4 Earthquake”) or Maya Baktun 13 (properly correlated) are actually ending today, and if they did, good riddance I guess.  These last 500 years have not been kind either to the Maya or the Aztec.  But I still favor, as I have for almost 32 years, George Clapp Vaillant’s correlation rather than the Goodman-Martinez-Thompson works just as well with the Crónica de Oxcutzcab and MUCH better with the archaeological record of the transition between the Terminal Classic and Postclassic…. Vaillant was the pioneer of stratigraphic excavation and ceramic chronology in Mesoamerican Archaeology, and his very early (mid-1920s) Harvard doctoral dissertation on the Ceramic Chronology of the Maya Lowlands was….really just amazing, as was his work at Holmul and his later work in the Valley of Mexico while working at the American Musem of Natural History in New York….

In the mid-17th Century, until the Calendrical Act of 1751.  It is widely known that in September 1752, Great Britain switched from the “Old Style” Julian Calendar (aka “O.S.” on many 18th century monuments, including almost all the old Colonial Churchyards in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Connecticut)  to the Gregorian Calendar. In order to achieve the change, 11 days were ‘omitted’ from the calendar – i.e. the day after 2 September 1752 was 14 September 1752.

An Act of Parliament triggered all this (yes, for a long time the Government has been telling us “what time it is”) – this act, the “Calendar Act” of 1751 bore the preambular title of An Act for Regulating the Commencement of the Year; and for Correcting the Calendar now in Use.

What isn’t so widely known is the second, and in some ways even more significant change which the Act introduced – as named in the first part of the Act’s title. The Act changed the first day of the year (or, if you want to impress your ignorant, historically unaware, quasi-illiterate American friends with a new word, the Supputation of the Year).

Prior to 1752 in England, the year began on 25 March (Lady Day) as it had indeed since long before the time of Julius Caesar after whom the Julian Calendar was named.   March 25 was one of the two dates seriously considered for bearing the honor of Christmas (birthday of Christ Jesus, Lord and Savior of the World—I mention this only because most people think of Christmas as strictly an event in the commercial and party calendar these days) at the Counsel of Nicea under Emperor Constantine the Great.   But March 25, from the Biblical Evidence of Shepherds being out tending their sheep on the hillsides of Judea, would make a lot more sense as Christmas than December 25, when the sheep would all have been brought down out of the cold….

Lady Day is one of the Quarter Days, which are still used in English, Irish, and Scottish legal circles. The Quarter Days divide the year in quarters (hence the name :-), and the Quarter Days are: Lady Day (25 March), Midsummers Day (24 June), Michaelmas Day (29 September), and Christmas Day (25 December).

Lady Day was one of the days when rents were traditionally due. In fact, this practice must have continued will beyond the 18th century as I’ve seen paintings of large meals for farm workers on Lady Day. Taxes were also due on Lady Day. With the ‘loss’ of 11 days in September 1752 and the stories of riots on the street, people weren’t impressed with having to pay their taxes in March 1753 like nothing had happened (in fact, as 25 March 1753 was a Sunday the taxes were due on Monday 26 March 1753 ) – so the taxman skipped the 11 days and decreed that taxes were due on 6 April 1753. And, to this day, the UK tax year starts on 6 April.

In any event, in Jolly Old England in the Good Old “Old Style” Days, the day after 24 March 1642 was 25 March 1643. The Act changed this, so that the day after 31 December 1751 was 1 January 1752. As a consequence, 1751 was a short year – it ran only from 25 March to 31 December.  The famous riots which occurred all over England “GIVE US BACK OUR 11 DAYS” were in part a response to the fact that the rents for that year were increased, along with the taxes…. always a bad thing to do in defiance of the Traditional Rights of Englishmen….

To throw some just a bit more confusion into the issue, Scotland had changed the first day of the year to 1 January in 1600 (in 1600, Scotland was a separate kingdom). When King James VI of Scotland became also King James I of England in 1603, the possibilities of date confusion must have been very large.

Historians have to tread rather carefully when reporting winter month dates prior to 1752. For example, in The Tower of London there is some graffiti scratched into a cell wall by someone imprisoned in January 1642 for his role in the Battle of Edgehill (which took place on 23 October 1642).  And this is totally accurate, historically: January, February, and most of March of 1643 (by our reckoning, were originally considered to be part of 1642—the graffitist was NOT delusional by any stretch at all).

Historical documents contain, from the century or so before the Calendar Act, substantial evidence of contemporary dual dating in England and especially Scotland.  For example, some essentially contemporary paintings of the execution of King Charles I (aka “King Charles the Martyr”) on Tuesday 30 January 1648 have a title bearing the date 30 January 1648/9.

Samuel Pepys’s famous diary begins on New Years Day (1 January) 1660, but it is clear that this is actually the year 1659/60. So was the Calendar Act in 1751 merely formalising common usage, or was it a radical change ?  The preface to one recent and authoritative edition of Samuel Pepys’s diary states that using 1 January as the start of the year was common practice at that time – i.e. 1660.

Likewise, a tourist pamphlet I once collected at Broughton Castle (just SW of Banbury in Oxfordshire, the ancestral home of the Fiennes family, including the aristocratic Norman and Cavalier ancestors of Hollywood/Pinewood actors Ralph and Joseph.  It is appropriate to recall Ralph’s portrayal of famous Fascists in “Schindler’s List” and “the English Patient” and Joseph’s “M” roles Martin Luther, Merlin, and Most recently as Monsignor Timothy Howard, not to mention their nephew “Hero” who played Tom Riddle, Lord Voldemort in the Half Blood Prince.  Yet another member of the family is “gasp” an archaeologist—Michael Fiennes.

Anyhow the tourist guide pamphlet for the mediaeval manor house Broughton refers to a speech made on Thursday 27 January 1658 – and the pamphlet states it was printed in 1659.  In order for the day to be a Thursday, this must be referring to 27 January 1658/9 (i.e. the pamphlet was printed some months after the speech), however the year is specified as 1658 – and not as 1658/9.

So did the year of Charles II’s glorious restoration, in fact commence on 25 March in 1658, or on 1 January in 1660 ?

Perhaps the answer is connected with the coronation of King Charles II in Scotland on 1 January 1651 – that’s a Scottish date, for a Scottish king. Perhaps the Royalist cause Cavalier Longhairs used ‘Scottish’ dates, and the Roundhead Parliamentarian cause used ‘old style’ dates?  This theory doesn’t sit well with the fact that from 1654 Pepys had been steward to Edward Mountagu, a General-at-Sea in Cromwell’s Protectorate, but Pepys was to make his fame and fortune and contribution to literary and social history during the Restoration and Reign of King Charles Edward Stuart, II.

King Charles II did not become king of England until 8 May 1660 (coronation on 23 April 1661), after the start of Samuel Pepys’s diary.

In the Julian Calendar, leap years occurred every 4 years, and in leap years the 29 February was added.

But remember that 29 February was in the last quarter of the year by the old reckoning.

And so it appears that leap years have NOT always (at least in the Old Style) been those where the year number was one less than an exact multiple of 4! (e.g. 1600, 1660, 1776, 1788, and all American Presidential Election Years since).

The House of Commons Journal for Wednesday, February 29th, 1659 would seem to bear this out – remembering that this date is otherwise expressed as 29 February 1659/60, and appears in Samuel Pepys’s diary as 29 February 1660 (just to add to the confusion).

House of Commons Journal for Thursday, 29 February 1643 (otherwise 29 February 1643/4) and House of Commons Journal for Tuesday, 29 February 1647 (otherwise 29 February 1647/8) confirm this, although note the Latin form of the dates which was presumably dropped in the Commonwealth/Protectorate.

Anyhow, a truly Old-Style English Christmas Tree will always go up on the Night of the Solstice and this is totally perfect and appropriate and in line with the Pagan heritage of the Christmas tree.  I wish everyone else would stick to the schedule properly—I hate it that the New World Order Common Commercial Christmas starts November 1 (at the latest) in all the stores everywhere IN THE WORLD.

I love the old-fashioned ways of putting up the tree on the Shortest Day and Longest Night—and keeping it up a few days past Epiphany at the most.  Christmas really is more magical when it’s limited to “the Season” properly defined.  Kind of like how Mardi Gras in New Orleans has become a nearly year round thing with beads and tokens all over the place all year….

Thursday night, I had a young Moldovan cabdriver from Kishniev this evening to bring me back from Tulane Law via the Trolley stop restaurant on Saint Charles.  He was sure I had never heard of his country, said I was the first American ever to accurately locate it between Romania and Ukraine, and was even more amazed that anyone in the US would know where the River Moldau was….. luckily for him, he had no idea why it was I know so much about Moldavia… why I know it better than I want to…..  It was so refreshing to see someone so young and innocent talking about American Christmas and New Orleans Mardi Gras customs….and being so amazed by them all…..

Remembering that from the early 13th to the mid-18th Century, Old Style, before the 11 day Calendrical adjustment, the Shortest Day and Longest Night of the Year fell on December 13, and came to be known as Saint Lucy’s Night, I reproduce today, as I do every year, John Donne’s Nocture on Saint Lucy’s Night in memory of my grandmother who knew how to keep this season so very well…. and this was the ONLY night she ever put up the Christmas tree at 3516 Lindenwood in Highland Park, or wherever the season happened to land us….

A NOCTURNAL UPON SAINT LUCY’S DAY,                                       BEING THE SHORTEST DAY,                                                                   by John Donne

‘TIS the year’s midnight, and it is the day’s,
Lucy’s, who scarce seven hours herself unmasks ;
    The sun is spent, and now his flasks
    Send forth light squibs, no constant rays ;
            The world’s whole sap is sunk ;
The general balm th’ hydroptic earth hath drunk,
Whither, as to the bed’s-feet, life is shrunk,
Dead and interr’d ; yet all these seem to laugh,
Compared with me, who am their epitaph.

Study me then, you who shall lovers be
At the next world, that is, at the next spring ;
    For I am every dead thing,
    In whom Love wrought new alchemy.
            For his art did express
A quintessence even from nothingness,
From dull privations, and lean emptiness ;
He ruin’d me, and I am re-begot
Of absence, darkness, death—things which are not.

All others, from all things, draw all that’s good,
Life, soul, form, spirit, whence they being have ;
    I, by Love’s limbec, am the grave
    Of all, that’s nothing. Oft a flood
            Have we two wept, and so
Drown’d the whole world, us two ; oft did we grow,
To be two chaoses, when we did show
Care to aught else ; and often absences
Withdrew our souls, and made us carcasses.

But I am by her death—which word wrongs her—
Of the first nothing the elixir grown ;
    Were I a man, that I were one
    I needs must know ; I should prefer,
            If I were any beast,
Some ends, some means ; yea plants, yea stones detest,
And love ; all, all some properties invest.
If I an ordinary nothing were,
As shadow, a light, and body must be here.

But I am none ; nor will my sun renew.
You lovers, for whose sake the lesser sun
    At this time to the Goat is run
    To fetch new lust, and give it you,
            Enjoy your summer all,
Since she enjoys her long night’s festival.
Let me prepare towards her, and let me call
This hour her vigil, and her eve, since this
Both the year’s and the day’s deep midnight is.