Early American Choral Music, Vol. 1

Early American Choral Music, Vol. 2

Customs and Fashions in Old New England

Day, and was sometimes appointed for the day succeeding the feast—a clever plan which had its good hygienic points. Days of private as well as of public fast and thanksgiving were also observed by individuals. Judge Sewall took the greatest satisfaction in his fastings, and carefully outlined his plan of prayer throughout the fast day, which he spent in his chamber—a plan which included and specified ministers, rulers and magistrates, his family, and every person whom he said "had a smell of relation" to him; and also every nation and people in the known world. He does not note Thanksgiving Day as a holiday of any importance.

Though in the mind of the Puritan, Christmas smelled to heaven of idolatry, when his own festival, Thanksgiving, became annual, it assumed many of the features of the old English Christmas; it was simply a day of family reunion in November instead of December, on which Puritans ate turkey and Indian pudding and pumpkin-pie, instead of "superstitious meats" such as a baron of beef, boar's head, and plum-pudding.

Many funny stories are told of the early Thanksgiving Days, such as the town of Colchester calmly ignoring the governor's appointed day and observing their own festival a week later in order to allow time for the arrival, by sloop from New York, of a hogs-head of molasses for pies. Another is recounted of a farmer losing his cask of Thanksgiving molasses out of his cart as he reached the top of a steep hill, and of its rolling swiftly down till split in twain by its fall. His helpless discomfiture and his wife's acidity of temper and diet are comically told.

There is in the possession of the Massachusetts Historical Society a broadside announcing a thanksgiving for victory in King Philip's War; and during the following year, 1677, the first regular Thanksgiving proclamation was printed.

But Thanksgiving Day was not the chief New England holiday. Ward, writing in 1699, does not name it, saying of New Englanders: "Election, Commencement and Training Days are their only Holy Days."

It was natural in New England, a state planted by men of exceptional intelligence, that all should think as one minister said, "If the college die, the church cannot long live;" and in the Commencement Day of their colleges they found matter of deep interest, of pride, of recreation. Judge Sewall always notes the day at Harvard, its exercises, its dinner, its plentiful wine, and the Commencement cake, which he carried to his friends. The meagre entries in the diaries and almanacs of many an old New England minister show that Commencement Day was one of their proudest holidays. After 1730, Commencement Day was usually set for Friday, in order that there might be, as President Wadsworth said in his diary, "less remaining time in the week to be spent in frolicking."

Training Day may be called the first New England holiday, though Hawthorne thought the day of too serious importance in early warlike times to be classed

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