Thursday, November 26, 2009

thanksgiving: a victorian tradition


image source: Strawberry Lane

Although Thanksgiving has been celebrated in America on and off since the first recognized one at Plymouth Plantation in 1621, the holiday did not become an annual tradition until 1863, according to Victoria's Jewelry Box. Many of our current Thanksgiving traditions were established in the Victorian Era (in America, not Britain):

The Thanksgiving turkey was served as a nod to the early Pilgrims and settlers who relied on wild turkey as one of their primary sources of food when they arrived in the new world. The earliest recipes for turkey dinners usually included traditional dressing (or stuffing) ingredients like stale bread, corn meal, and seasonings.

During the Victorian era, however, cooks became more creative. Thanksgiving turkey might be stuffed with chestnuts and dried cranberries, oysters, sausage, or various fruits. Since refrigeration of any kind was still a luxury few had, stuffing tended to vary depending upon what was locally fresh.

Victorians always enjoyed a lavish banquet, but they were also frugal. After the Thanksgiving turkey dinner had been eaten– they ate plenty of leftovers, just like we do today. Victorian cookbooks and magazines contained recipes such as “Deviled Turkey,” “Turkey in Savory Jelly,” and “Thanksgiving Turkey Pot Pie” for dressing up the remains of the Thanksgiving meal to be served on Friday.
So dig in, and be thankful for the Victorians for making turkey and pumpkin pie a staple of this national holiday.

1 comment:

  1. That's so interesting. I also just found this article: http://www.juancole.com/2009/11/thanksgiving-of-fantasticals-day-of.html
    It talks about what Thanksgiving used to be before it became the tradition it is now: men would dress up and take to the streets in mirthful protest. Apparently, the wholesome family dinner was in response to the rowdiness outside.

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