"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Just how much did early Americans party during the Christmas holiday?

Quite a bit, as historian extraordinaire Thomas Kidd gives some of the background on the festive nature of Christmas back in the day: Was Christmas in Revolutionary America a Drunken Bash? As Kidd writes:
In the 1700s, Christmas was notorious for drunken bashes more reminiscent of Mardi Gras than our family-friendly holiday. An account from New York published during the "twelve days" of Christmas in early 1787 (the same year Americans would frame the new Constitution) paints a picture of a deeply conflicted holiday. As one might expect, some people focused on the religious meaning of the season, setting aside the time "for a most sacred purpose." Others, however, spent the twelve days "reveling in profusion, and paying their sincere devotions to merry Bacchus," the Greek god of wine and festivity. 


The overt partying that was part of the Christmas celebration back in the day certainly adds context to George Washington's eggnog recipe! Folks back in the founding era liked their 'nog strong, as did the Father of Our Country:
One quart cream, one quart milk, one dozen tablespoons sugar, one pint brandy, ½ pint rye whiskey, ½ pint Jamaica rum, ¼ pint sherry—mix liquor first, then separate yolks and whites of eggs, add sugar to beaten yolks, mix well. Add milk and cream, slowly beating. Beat whites of eggs until stiff and fold slowly into mixture. Let set in cool place for several days. Taste frequently.
Love that last sentence.  Washington unfortunately left out the number of eggs to add to the receipt, so feel free to experiment a bit and still claim complete authenticity to Washington's concoction. Merry Christmas!

5 comments:

Adrienne said...

My dad always made "real" eggnog with egg whites beaten to stiffness. Lovely. That stuff they sell in the stores is beyond putrid and feels like glue.

Mark DeForrest said...

Weirdly enough, the best store bought 'nog I've had is the soy milk 'nog from Whole Foods. Otherwise, yeah, the store bought stuff isn't great.

Adrienne said...

A dry martini is a good substitute.

Mark DeForrest said...

True. I like Churchill's method of preparing a dry martini the best!

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