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Thanksgiving at Hagley features historic food, games and crafts

Hagley Museum

Thanksgiving is here - but many of holiday traditions we follow today are quite different than those of the early 1900s.


For example, it wasn’t always a common practice to put up a Christmas tree immediately following the Thanksgiving holiday.

In fact, it was more common to put up the tree on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day in the 19th century.

That’s just one thing visitors to Hagley Museum might learn during the holiday season.

Hagley’s Education Program Manager Jeff Durst said visitors will also get a chance to make Victorian-inspired Christmas ornaments, but with a modern flair – substituting glue with staples.

“It was really common for people to make their own clothing, toys, ornaments, whatever it was," Durst said. "They used commonly available materials that they had available in their houses.”

Printed paper became more common in the later part of the 19th century, and was a common material used to make ornaments like paper chains, cornucopias and fans.

But one had to be careful to make sure the paper ornaments didn’t touch the real candles that would have been used on trees of that era.

Durst also listed off the historic recipes visitors will have a chance to sample over the Thanksgiving holiday.

"Yam cakes with sage, vanilla pudding with lavender, and workers’ garden vegetable soup…"

The recipes are all from the Hagley Cookbook, a collection of recipes from DuPont workers, family members and other residents.

“A lot of the flavors are things that aren’t commonly used today," Durst said. "So they provide a bit of a unique insight into the pallet of the workers and the families that lived here during the 19th century.”

 But while Durst said many of the recipes involve hard-to-find ingredients – others, like the yam cakes, are similar to the modern day sweet potato.

While museum-goers can warm up by the fire in the downstairs of the John Gibbons House, upstairs they’ll get a chance to dress up, take photos and play parlor games.

“There’s one called hide the thimble where you take a simple thimble – a sewing thimble – and you hide it somewhere," Durst said. "And then everyone around the room goes around trying to find it. And when you find it, you don’t exclaim you’ve found it, you simply sit down.”

Apparently the last person to find the thimble is the loser of this game. Charades was – and still is – another popular game.

The event runs Friday – Sunday. More details can be found here.

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