Maple Sugaring at Old Sturbridge Village: Each Weekend in March; Celtic Celebration March 16-17

Friday, March 1, 2013

(STURBRIDGE, MA) -  February 28, 2013: Historians at Old Sturbridge Village will demonstrate maple sugar making at the Village’s own working “Sugar Camp” from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays each weekend in March.  Visitors can see the entire sugar-making process, from tapping the trees to “sugaring off,” and will learn why maple sugar was more commonly used than maple syrup in early New England.  Interpreters will also cook period foods made with maple products by the hearth at the Village’s Freeman Farm. For details: 800-733-1830, www.osv.org.

The Village will also celebrate St. Patrick's Day weekend March 16-17 with daytime "Celtic Celebration" events, complete with Irish music, food, step dancing and stories. Scottish dancing and bagpipe music will also be featured on Saturday, March 16, and on Sunday, March 17 Irish musicians will demonstrate the difference between jigs and reels and tell the story of the Irish experience through song. Throughout the weekend visitors can meet 19th-century Irish immigrant Mary Culligan, learn what caused the wave of Irish immigration, and what life was like for Irish families once they arrived in America.  In addition, the Irish band Full Gael will perform a full concert of Celtic music at 7:00 p.m. Saturday March 16 ($12 per person; $10 for Old Sturbridge Village members). Favorite Irish foods and beverages will be available for purchase, including Bangers & Mash, corned beef sandwiches, Guiness Stew, beer and wine.

Maple Sugaring

For visitors to Old Sturbridge Village, the first whiff of spring isn’t the aroma spring flowers, it’s the smell of wood smoke and maple syrup – a sure sign that the sap is rising and spring is on the way. Maple sap flows best when the days are above freezing and the nights are below freezing. Maple sugaring is one of the few American agricultural processes not imported from Europe -- it was taught to European settlers by the Algonquin and Iroquois tribes.

Some early farm families, especially in northern New England, tapped 100 trees or more for a yield of 400 pounds of sugar each season. Unlike today, early New Englanders didn’t make syrup, which developed mold without refrigeration; they boiled the sap all the way down to sugar. By the 1800s white sugar (cane sugar) imported from the West Indies was becoming cheaper, although in remote areas some families continued to make their own maple sugar.

St. Patrick's Day and the Irish in New England

Historians at Old Sturbridge Village are often asked if St. Patrick's Day was celebrated in early 19th-century New England. Because most New Englanders at the time were Protestants of English ancestry, St. Patrick was virtually unknown in the region at the time.  March 17 was celebrated as another holiday in Boston: Evacuation Day, commemorating March 17, 1776, when British troops fled Boston. The city did not see its first St. Patrick's Day parade until 1876.

Most of the 30,000 Irish who came to Massachusetts between 1820 and 1830 were skilled workers, not destitute peasants. After building factories, canals, and railroads in England, many came to do the same work here. When those projects were finished, some swelled New England’s rapidly growing urban populations, while others sought farm work in the countryside. Many more Irish immigrants came to New England to escape the potato famines of the 1840s.

Old Sturbridge Village celebrates life in the 1830s, and is one of the country’s largest living history museums. Located just off the Massachusetts Turnpike and Routes I-84 and 20 in Sturbridge, Mass., the Village is open year-round, but hours vary seasonally. Winter hours are Wed. - Sun. 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. (the Village is open on all Monday holidays); Admission is: $24 for adults; $22 for seniors; $8 for children ages 3-17; children 2 and under are admitted free. Each admission includes free parking and a free second-day visit within 10 days. Woo Card subscribers get 25% of adult daytime admission; college Woo cardholders receive 50% off adult daytime admission. For event details, visit www.osv.org or call 800-SEE-1830.

(Sidebars)
Maple Sugaring - Did you know?

• Each maple tree can produce up to 20 gallons of sap per tap during an average year.
• It takes 40 gallons of sap (or more) to make a gallon of syrup.
• Boiling maple sap required a high heat and lots of wood.  Because forests had been cleared for farm land, wood was often scarce and expensive, so early New Englanders used scrap wood to stoke the sugar camp fires – broken boards, shingles, old fence posts – whatever could be found to stoke a hot fire.

St. Patrick's Day – Did you know?

• Sometime in the 5th century AD, 16-year-old Patrick was kidnapped from his native Britain by an Irish raiding party and brought to Ireland as a slave. 
• Patrick later escaped to Britain, where he became a Christian priest and bishop. He returned to Ireland as a missionary, where, according to legend, he died on March 17.
• Patrick is said to have used the three-leafed shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity to converts. 

Event Highlights: Celtic Celebration at Old Sturbridge Village March 16-17

For the most recent schedule, visit the Old Sturbridge Village website: www.osv.org

Saturday, March 16, 2013

10:00-11:30 Cooking Irish Colcannon in the Towne House Kitchen
10:00-12:00 Make a Saint Brigid’s Cross in the Bullard Tavern
11:00 Mary Culligan’s Tour of the Towne House
11:30 Music on the Antique Pipe Organ - in the Center Meetinghouse
12:00 Irresistible Irish Tales – in the Dennison Building
1:00-2:30 Make a Saint Brigid’s Cross in the Bullard Tavern
1:00 Mary Culligan Reminisces about Saint Patrick’s Day in the Dennison Building
1:30 Scottish Dancing in the Visitor Center Theater
2:00 Music on the Antique Organ- in the Center Meetinghouse
2:30 Meet 19th Century Irish Immigrant Mary Culligan in the Towne House
3:00 Scottish Piping on the Common

Sunday, March 17, 2013

10:00-11:30 Cooking Irish Colcannon in the Towne House Kitchen
10:00-12:00 Make a Saint Brigid’s Cross in the Bullard Tavern
10:30 Traditional Irish Music Session- in the Bullard Tavern
11:00 Mary Culligan’s Tour of the Towne House
11:30   Irish Songs of Emigration in the Dennison Building
12:00 Irresistible Irish Tales – in the Dennison Building
12:30 Jigs, Reels and  Hornpipes in the Dennison Building
1:00-2:30 Make a Saint Brigid’s Cross in the Bullard Tavern
1:00 Mary Culligan Reminisces about Saint Patrick’s Day  in the Dennison Building
1:30 Irish Step Dancing with the Meghan Kelly School of Irish Dance in the Visitor Center Theater
2:00 Traditional Irish Music Session- in the Bullard Tavern
2:30 Meet 19th Century Irish Immigrant Mary Culligan in the Towne House
3:00 The Irish American Experience in Song in the Dennison Building

# # #

Ann Lindblad
VP Marketing and Communications
Old Sturbridge Village
alindblad@osv.org
508-347-0323; 508-886-2689 cell
www.osv.org
 

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