Friday, December 5, 2008

Thanksgiving at the Museum

By: Kajsa Sabatke, Interpretive Projects Coordinator Over the River and Through the Woods…recognize these words? They come from a poem, “A New-England Boy’s Song about Thanksgiving Day,” published in 1845 by Lydia Maria Childs. Thanksgiving was the biggest holiday celebration for families in the 1840s (even bigger than Christmas!). The actual date of the holiday moved around from year to year until 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November to be the national Thanksgiving celebration. Nineteenth-century New Yorkers celebrated Thanksgiving with feasting, religious services, and a break from their usual routines. This Thanksgiving weekend, I also had a break from my usual routine: I helped prepare dinner in the More House. I’d never done much other than watch museum staff cooking on the open hearth and baking in the fire-heated oven. Luckily, I was working under the guidance of Pat, an experienced and patient staff member. Our day was consumed with all the preparation, cooking, and cleanup. We roasted turkey, cooked vegetables, and baked holiday treats. I made dough for jam tarts, which we filled with jam made from the grapes that grow next to Bump Tavern. Cleaning out the ashes from the oven was the hottest part of my day. I had a wonderful time helping with the meal and talking to the visitors watching us cook. The best part of the day, though, came after all the food was ready and we could enjoy a sampling of our work!

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