A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from December 14, 2009
Love Feast

A “love feast” is a meal eaten by a Christian congregation, as a token of fellowship. A political “love feast” is a gathering to display reconciliation or good feelings; a political “love feast” may or may not include a dinner.

The Guilded Age (1873), a novel by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner, included a newspaper called the Washington Daily Love-Feast. The political use of the term “love feast” appears to date to at least the 1850s; the term is somewhat dated today, but is still infrequently used.


Wikipedia: Agape feast
The Agape feast or Love feast was a religious meal that seems to have been in use among early Christians and to have been closely related to the Eucharist. References to it are discerned in 1 Corinthians 11:17-34, in Saint Ignatius of Antioch’s Letter to the Smyrnaeans, and more particularly in a letter from Pliny the Younger to Trajan, in which he reported that the Christians, after having met “on a stated day” in the early morning to “address a form of prayer to Christ, as to a divinity”, later in the day would “reassemble, to eat in common a harmless meal”, which is thought to be the Agape. There are possible references to the Agape also in the writings of Hippolytus of Rome and Tertullian. Its connection with the Eucharist had virtually ceased by the time of Cyprian (died 258), when the Eucharist was celebrated fasting in the morning and the agape, increasingly a charity supper, in the evening. The Council of Laodicea of about 363-364 forbade the use of churches for celebrating the Agape or love feast. Though still mentioned in the Quinisext Council of 692, the Agape fell into disuse soon after, except perhaps in Ethiopia.

The Agape was again introduced among certain eighteenth-century Pietist groups, such as the Moravian Church, and was adopted by Methodism. It has been revived more recently among other groups, including Anglicans.

Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary
Main Entry: love feast
Function: noun
Date: 1580
1 : a meal eaten in common by a Christian congregation in token of brotherly love
2 : a gathering held to promote reconciliation and good feeling or show someone affectionate honor

(Oxford English Dictionary)
love-feast, n.
Christian Church.
With reference to the early Christians: a communal meal held, originally in association with the Eucharist, as a token of fellowship; = AGAPE n. 1. Now hist.
(...)
fig. and in extended use (now chiefly N. Amer.). Any meal, meeting, or other gathering that fosters fellowship or goodwill between the participants.
Freq. in a political context.
1622 T. SCOTT Belgicke Pismire 80 These their meetings seeme meerely to be loue-feastes, and to be made more for societie and neighbourhood, then for the delicacie of the Cates.
1639 in Trans. Shropshire Archaeol. Soc. (1895) 7 203 The parson of the said parish for the tyme beinge hath yearely upon Easter day feasted all the parishioners..wth a love-feast.
1682 J. BUNYAN Holy War 239 The love-feasts that had wont to be between their Prince and them, though he made them still, and called them to them, yet they neglected to come at them.
a1730 A. PENNECUIK in Poems (?1750) 35 Poor Students found him generous and kind, On his Love-feasts they very often din’d.
1876 Solano Republican (Suisun, Calif.) 24 Aug. 2/1 A regular old-fashioned Democratic love-feast was engaged in by the many-scarred war-horses of the party.
1893 Nation (N.Y.) 19 Jan. 44/1 On the evening of inauguration day the Populists held a ‘love-feast’.
1904 Charleston News & Courier 1 Sept. 4 There will be a great Democratic love feast in which a thousand Democratic editors will take part.

7 April 1834, Eastern Argus (ME), pg. 2:
The federal party had a grand caucus at the City Hall on Saturday night, and we are told there was much hugging and kissing among the old veterans of the party and their new converts. We don’t mean to say that the gentlemen of color participated in this “love feast,” (i. e. the hugging and kissing!) although it is said several of them were placed on the nominating committee.

11 December 1852, Janesville (WI) Gazette, pg. 6, col. 4:
The Albany Argus publishes the letters only of the hunkers, who declined attending the late “democratic” love feast at Rochester; while the Atlas prints those only of the barnburners.

31 March 1856, New York (NY) Times, pg. 1 breaker:
A LOVE FEAST.
(The story is about “Mr. Sickles’ Democratic Dinner”—ed.)

26 August 1858, New York (NY) Times, pg. 2:
MR. HEADLEY, one of the principal actors in the “Love Feast,” is a gentleman of influence and position among the Americans.

9 February 1860, New York (NY) Times, pg. 5:
They represent their convocation at Syracuse as “a perfect love feast.”
(A convention for women’s rights—ed.)

11 May 1860, New York (NY) Times, pg. 1:
The proceeding attending the nomination of EVERETT were a love feast which healed all.

27 July 1860, Janesville (WI) Daily Gazette, pg. 5, col. 3:
Our State Mass Meeting will come off at Springfield on the 7th of August. It will be a Republican love feast at “Old Abe’s” home.

29 April 1871, Harper’s Weekly, pg. 379, col. 1:
A PATRIOTIC LOVE-FEAST.
THERE was recently an extraordinary love-feast in the city. Mr. GREELEY was one of the party, and the ex-rebel General IMBODEN another. Mr. CHARLES W. GODARD, lately one of the most active Repbulican leaders, took sweet counsel with Mr. JOHN MITCHEL, recently a rebel editor in Richmond, previously an aspirant for an Alabama plantation, and earlier an Irish patriot and exile. There were other gentlemen present, and all were gathered for an admirable purpose. Indeed, it is pleasant to read the record of the meeting, and to feel that those who differ so warmly in politics can harmoniously meet and discuss as friends a policy which is truly that of patriotism and peace. For the object of the meeting was the establishment of a national emigration bureau to assist those who wish to settle in colonies already formed, or to found new settlements.

Google Books
The gilded age: a tale of to-day,
Volume 2

By Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner
New York, NY: Grosset & Dunlap
1873
Pg. 118:
However, the Washington Daily Love-Feast (A fictional newspaper—ed.) hailed the bill with warm approbation.

14 November 1873, Ohio Democrat (New Philadelphia, OH), pg. 2, col. 1:
It seems to us that it will be a fitting season for a grand Democratic love feast, and a very proper occasion, in State Convention, to nominate a ticket for the campaign of 1874.

Google Books
Safire’s Political Dictionary
By William Safire
New York, NY: Oxford University Press
2008
Pg. 402:
love feast Humorous exaggeration of a friendly meeting, especially one that could have revealed tensions and bitterness but ends amicably.
(...)
The religious phrase was probably introduced into politics by Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner in 1873, in the novel The Guilded Age, a story about the politics of Reconstruction. The newspaper in their fictional Washington, D.C., is so much the supporter of the corrupt status quo that it is called the Daily Love-Feast. A more restrained form is “mutual admiration society.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Monday, December 14, 2009 • Permalink