Saturday, May 29, 2010

Pinkster Fest: Celebrating Spring, Colonial Style

Remember what fun the Bergen County Historical Society's County Ball was to celebrate George Washington's birthday? Flashback. Now a proud, card-carrying member, I returned for their annual Pinkster Fest.

What is it, you ask? A bit of background, from their web site:

"Imagine you are back in a time when the spring planting was done and nature allowed a moment of relaxation and community celebration. The Jersey Dutch joyously observed Pentecost as Pinkster, a holiday marking the budding of trees, the flowering of shrubs and feasting upon the first harvest of spring grains. In farming communities, a May-tree or pole was set in the ground and decorated with nosegays woven from wildflowers. A sporting contest, usually involving foot or horse races, determined who would be crowned as a figurative bride and groom, the May Queen and King. This flower-crowned couple led merry-makers in a procession, going door-to-door and gathering dyed eggs, butter, bread, cream, coffee, sugar, and tallow candles in their baskets. Food collected in these spring baskets furnished the table of the communal Pinkster supper, actually a mock wedding feast, complete with ring dances. Toasts with buttermilk, known as "white wine", singing, and recital of the Pinkster Ode complete the celebration."

A young boy observes the festivities.

A traditional sweeping of the porch started the celebration (I wasn't there in time), followed by dancing around the May pole. Note the crown of flowers atop it.

Anne and Ridley Enslow were on-hand with ditties of yesteryear.

Observe the wooden shoes Anne has on, which would be traditional in the muddy fields.

A teacher observing this scene said some of her students were in disbelief that cotton comes from a plant. Not only do we forget our food sources, but also of the origins of the clothes on our back.

As Memorial Day is upon us, reflect on the life of the soldiers that provided us the freedoms we enjoy today.

A peek inside a few of the items inside a soldier's pack. The comb? Not for vanity, but to keep out lice, which could spread diseases, and in turn, destroy armies, we learned.

Refreshment time. Have a seat in their tavern.

Enjoy some cherry strudel, with some apple cider and punch. It was refreshing to see volunteers washing the plastic cups they were served in by hand. One woman said they are mindful of conservation.

My favorite house: the back kitchen.

What magic is being whipped up?

Blueberry cornbread. I will definitely try adding blueberries to my next cornbread batch.

In a very un-colonial style, I admit to using the Trader Joe's cornbread mix, and use plain soy milk and Ener-G egg replacer to omit the dairy and eggs.

This Dutch dish of potatoes, apples, carrots, onion and mushrooms can be made vegetarian by omitting the bacon.

Brussels sprouts are delicious served roasted, and would be delightful for a Sunday supper alongside Field Roast vegan Meatloaf, mashed potatoes and apple crisp. Just thinking aloud!

American flags in the gift shop. Remember how patriotic we once were, and how American flags were in high demand? The last time I can remember was in 2001.

If we don't favor our officeholders, whether of town, state or nation, should we love our country any less? If we feel we're headed in the wrong direction, aren't we obligated as citizens to change that course even in some small way?

I think of Johnny Wheelwright's words in John Irving's "A Prayer for Owen Meany" that, "Americans are not big on history. How many of them even know their own, recent history? Was twenty years ago so long ago for Americans."

So many don't even seem to follow current events, let alone reflect on our past. I'm thankful that groups like the Bergen County Historical Society work to preserve and celebrate our history and traditions like the Pinkster Fest. Check out all of their upcoming events.


MaddyG said...

Katherine~ thanks for bringing your readers along on so many aweesome adventures! I've been away from my computer lately, so I've missed many of your posts. So nice to stop in and see your pics and read your musings! ; )

Catherine @ The Vegan Good Life said...

Thanks so much for the kind comment! Happy to have you as a reader. Happy spring (almost summer!)