Thanksgiving Day (US)
Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day
Today's Musings, History & Folklore
“For pottage and puddings and custards and pies,
Our pumpkins and parsnips are common supplies:
We have pumpkins at morning and pumpkins at noon,
If it were not for pumpkins, we would be undoon.”
~ Traditional, 1630
Pumpkins were a mainstay of the Pilgrim diet in the New World, though not in traditional pie form. As a foodstuff, pumpkins were wonderfully versatile; they provided sustenance whether they were roasted, boiled, parched, or baked. Seeds were eaten, and used as medicine. Dried pumpkin was ground into flour, or flattened and woven into mats, and the gourds were used as bowls, and containers for grain. Pumpkins were sometimes hollowed out and filled with spiced and/or sweetened milk, and then boiled; early settlers would drink this straight from the gourd. They would also take the seeds out of a pumpkin, and fill it with cream, eggs, honey, and spices, before baking the whole thing in the ash of a cooking fire. When the filling was scooped out, along with the flesh of the pumpkin, it was a bit like a custard, or a crust-less pumpkin pie.
Happy Thanksgiving to all Scottish Country Dancers in North America with a classic dessert, particularly for American Thanksgiving, pumpkin pie.
The American holiday feast dates back to November 1621, when the newly arrived Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians gathered at Plymouth for an autumn harvest celebration.
Both the Pilgrims and members of the Wampanoag tribe ate pumpkins and other squashes indigenous to New England—possibly even during the harvest festival—but lacked the butter and wheat flour necessary for a pie crust. Moreover, settlers hadn’t yet constructed ovens for baking. According to some accounts, early English settlers in North America improvised by hollowing out pumpkins, filling the shells with milk, honey and spices to make a custard, then roasting the gourds whole in hot ashes.