Winter. Children love to build snowmen. Adults hope that the preparations they have made during the Fall will last through the cold dark months until Spring. And everyone loves the social occasions – sleighrides, parties and Christmas. The following vignette, ‘Let it Snow’, draws from material held in the Flamborough Archives and illustrates some of the experiences of Flamborough winters in days gone past.
“As the December snow swirled around the village, the last preparations for winter were completed. Hay was stacked, corn was heaped in sheds, flour-filled bags were packed in bins in clay cellar pits, meat was hung in the smoke house, fruits were dried and stored in bags, nuts had been gathered. The winter supply of tallow candles, made from every available source of grease, was packed in boxes. Firewood was stacked beside each dwelling. The Christmas season with its joyous traditional festive customs, was ushered in.”
(WEFHS Heritage Paper #8 Dec 1981. From “Wilderness Christians: The Moravian Mission to the Delaware Indians” by Emma E. Gray c. 1790.)
Although that description was based on life in Pennsylvania, winter in Flamborough was not much different. Women canned, dried and prepared food for the winter months; men chopped wood and repaired or purchased new equipment for the next season.
As Dorothy Turcotte writes in “Carlisle Beginnings”:
“Winter in the country used to require quite a bit of planning and preparation. Whenever possible, families tried to be self-sufficient. Those who had hogs weighing around 200 lbs would slaughter them to provide a winter supply of meat. The entire family would be involved in making sausages which would be stored in earthenware crocks. … Fat would be rendered on the cook stove. This could be dangerous, for if any fat splashed on to the top of the stove, a serious fire could result. The rendered fat was lard, the ingredient that pioneer women used to produce beautiful cakes and pastries. The fat was also combined with wood ash to make laundry soap.”
Christmas postcards were popular and one could find pictures and text to fit any occasion – even sending money. Some were very elaborate. The postcard below with the church was made so that if it was held up to the light, the stained glass windows seemed to glow, as did the moon.