Awesome Desserts for a Washington’s Birthday Party

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Friday, February 20, 1914:  Nothing much doing.

Source: Ladies Home Journal (February, 1914)

Source: Ladies Home Journal (February, 1914)

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Have you ever heard of anyone holding a party to celebrate Washington’s Birthday. It must have been a much more popular holiday a hundred years ago than what it is now.

Since Grandma didn’t write much a hundred years ago today, I’m going to share some fun food suggestions for a Washington’s Birthday party that appeared in the February, 1914 issue of Ladies Home Journal.

In the 1960s, Washington’s Birthday morphed into President’s Day which is celebrated on the 3rd Monday in February.  But, in 1914, Washington’s Birthday was celebrated on his actual birthdate, February 22—and apparently it was a bigger deal than what it is now.


37 Responses

  1. Old Sturbridge Village, a large, outdoor living history museum in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, which portrays a rural New England village in the 1830s, commemorates Washington’s Birthday every year. Historian-intetpreters at the museum offer all sorts of information about how popular the holiday was at that time, and serve up a special menu of events, including a dance and baking an 1830s birthday cake recipe to honor the first President. They stress how widely the holiday was celebrated around the US in the early Republic and have a great deal of documentation to support it.

    • The Washington’s Birthday celebration at Old Sturbridge Village sounds like a lot of fun. It’s a little sad how interest in a holiday can wane over time.

  2. This is so interesting! I wanted to share it on Facebook, or email it to some friends, but didn’t see those options? Did I miss them?

  3. A cake depicting an historical event …… Seems like a modern idea to decorate a cake so elaborately. For a school project my son once did a diorama of Dunkirk using rice grains for the men. Took a whole weekend to glue them all on! Jane

    • I can also remember a few of those school projects that my kids did that took days to pull together. At the time I remember thinking that teachers shouldn’t assign such time-consuming projects–now it’s fun to remember them.

  4. What an elaborate cake themed with ‘Crossing the Delaware’ – don’t think any ordinary farmers family will be making this!

    • A hundred years ago Ladies Home Journal was a very popular mass circulation magazine. In 1911, the circulation as 1.5 million copies per month. In 1911, I did a post on the circulation of Ladies Home Journal and Saturday Evening Post that you might enjoy:

      My sense is that Ladies Home Journal sometimes portrayed things that readers could aspire to make or buy–even if they never actually did it. . . Sort of like how television shows today like House Hunters International portray a lifestyle that most of us will never live.

  5. Yesterday was my birthday. Thanks for the cake. :-)

  6. I love historical trivia and this is so interesting. My friend’s birthday is Feb. 22 so I will definitely share this with her.

  7. No word on the Valentine? Can you tell I want to read ahead in Grandma’s diary? You have me hooked.

  8. What an interesting tidbit of American history! Here in Alberta, Canada, we celebrate Family Day on the 3rd Monday of February.

  9. Very interesting! …and any reason to have cake is good enough for me.

  10. Grandma must still be recuperating!

    • Might be. . . she sure had a late night the other day. (Something ia not quite right with the tense of my comment, but I can’t quite figure out how to fix it.)

  11. What an amazing book cake. I can’t imagine going to the detail, and then just eating it!
    But then, I’m no baker….

    • When my children were younger, we used to like to try to replicate fancy cakes in a Wilton cake decorating book that I had. This book cake looks like it would be a fun project–even if it didn’t end up looking as nice as the one in the picture. I bet that a fork could be used to make the page edges.

  12. thank you so much, sharing it on facebook! Helen

  13. Holy Hannah, those are fancy. No one around here needs any baking right now, bummer.

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