Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Shaker Saint Patrick's Day?

In the study of history, change is one of the few things that remains constant. This is particularly true among the Shakers. Something that may have been unheard of in 1823 might be truly commonplace by 1923. Rules evolved and new ideas were introduced. One example of this is the celebration of social holidays. The Shakers celebrated many religious holidays throughout their history, but by the twentieth century, social holidays such as Halloween and Saint Patrick's Day were occasionally observed. This entry from a journal kept by Sister Lucy Bowers at the Watervliet South Family describes an unusual meal.

17 March 1923 - Mary prepares a green supper which we enjoy. Chicken salad, green jello, candy and cake and creamed potatoes, also ice cream with green jello topping. Mary tires herself and is sick all night.

It is possible that the Shaker Sisters got the idea for a green meal from one of the women's publications available in that era. Evidence suggests that the Shakers received Ladies Home Journal and used some of the craft patterns and recipes included in the issues.