Monday, October 10, 2011

Pioneer Thanksgiving

We're on the sixth book, "The Long Winter", in the Little House series. Serena is completely drawn into the Ingalls family story, partly by the rich descriptive narration, and partly by the charm of pioneer life.

This past week, we tried following some pioneer traditions leading up to Thanksgiving, based on the book "A Pioneer Thanksgiving, A Story of Harvest Celebration in 1841" by Barbara Greenwood.
Weaving a Nutting Basket:
The Pioneers made theirs with honeysuckle vines or willow wands.  Children were sent into the forest with these baskets to gather from the wild - acorns, beechnuts, black walnuts, butternuts or sweet chestnuts.  We filled ours with acorns.
Playing Conkers:
Serena remembered a perfect spot for collecting horse chestnuts - it's the same spot where we always go to get our leaves in the fall for composting. We made our conkers by threading a string through each chestnut.  To play, take turns whirling your conker to strike the nuts on the ground!

Peach-Stone Game:
We saved and cleaned some peach stones for this game popular among the Iroquois children at the Green Corn Festival.
Making a Corn Dolly:
This ritual was a harvest superstition to pass the "harvest spirit" on to the new crop.  It's traditionally made with wheat stalks - wheat is called corn in Europe and Britain.  We made ours with twine.
Making Cranberry Sauce:
The pioneers would gather cranberries after the first hard frost.  It was slow work to pick the berries out of their tangle of stems in the cranberry bog.  We picked ours from the supermarket.  It was fast.
The highlight for Serena is definitely making festival bread.  It's our first time making bread from scratch, and it worked!  Pioneers decorated their festival bread with favourite pictures like sheaves of wheat, a cornucopia spilling fruit, baskets of fish, etc.  Patriotic Serena chose CANADA and the maple leaf as her decoration.

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:16

Happy Thanksgiving!

Related Reading:
"A Pioneer Story: the daily life of a Canadian Family in 1840" by Barbara Greenwood
"Canadian Pioneers" by Maxine Trottier

1 comment:

  1. WOW.That must have taken a lot of work.
    Hope you had it ready to enjoy Thanksgiving.
    The games look like great fun.
    Nanny & Papa