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Old Sturbridge Village, New England Thanksgiving
An event every week that begins at 12:00 am on Sunday and Saturday, repeating until November 19, 2022
In early 19th-century New England, preparations for Thanksgiving started well before the actual holiday. On weekends now through November 19th, be sure to stop by our households to learn about some of the dishes on 1830s Thanksgiving tables as we prepare for the holiday. Then, on November 19th, our interpreters will be celebrating Thanksgiving in the early afternoon at the Freeman Farmhouse and Fitch House. As always, you can also visit our trade shops, take a horse-drawn carryall ride, hear stories and music, and more. No two visits are alike!
The Village will closed this year on Thanksgiving Day, but we wanted to give you an opportunity to learn about how early 19th-century New Englanders celebrated Thanksgiving!
- Roast Turkey, stuffed
- A pair of chickens stuffed, and boiled, with cabbage and a piece of lean pork
- A Chicken Pie
- Potatoes; turnip sauce; squash; onions; gravy and gravy sauces; apple and cranberry sauce; oyster sauce; brown and white bread
- Plum and Plain Pudding, with sweet sauce.
- Mince, Pumpkin, and Apple Pies
|View Historic Receipts|
You can find historically common ingredients like rose water, cookbooks, and Village-inspired foodstuffs like jams, jellies, and drink mixes at both Ox & Yoke Mercantile and the Miner Grant Store
Did you know?
- In early New England, Thanksgiving was the biggest holiday of the year, far surpassing Christmas, which wasn’t celebrated in the tradition of the Puritans who settled the region.
- During the Village’s time period, Thanksgiving was not a fixed date on the calendar. Thanksgiving proclamations were written by the governors of each state that participated in the holiday and these proclamations were typically read in meetinghouses on the Sunday before the holiday. In 1838, ten of the 26 states in the Union officially celebrated Thanksgiving. It did not become a national holiday until 1863.
- Turkeys in the early 19th century were much smaller than today’s “butterballs,” and turkey wasn’t always on the Thanksgiving menu, because they were a lot of work to prepare for not much meat.
- In the early 1800s, turkey “drovers” herded and marched turkeys on foot from central and western Massachusetts to the huge Brighton market just outside of Boston, Mass. to sell the birds to wealthy city dwellers.
- Many vegetables weren’t peeled for everyday cooking, but they were for holidays like Thanksgiving to show the elevated status of the day.
- Pies were baked weeks ahead of time and stored in unheated attics and bedrooms where they would freeze and keep for months. Pies not consumed at Thanksgiving would sometimes last until April.
- The cranberry is one of three fruits native to North America, and was used by Native Americans to make pemmican – a survival food made of mashed cranberries mixed with deer meat. They also used cranberries in poultices to draw poison from wounds.