Wednesday, May 5, 2010

St. Tammany's Day - The Forgotten Holiday

Throughout history, the world’s population has anxiously awaited the warm and energizing advent of the growing season. They mark its arrival with celebrations that are as numerous as they are varied. To a citizen of Pennsylvania in the 18th century, having endured and survived a “mini ice age” which gripped the northern hemisphere throughout the 1700s, the commencement of summer would have also been observed as a milestone of survival.

May Day celebrations, which were prolific throughout Europe, traveled to America in many forms as European populations crossed the Atlantic Ocean. As they reached the shores of North America, these customs began to take on uniquely American qualities and traditions.

The St. Tammany Day celebrations were an excellent regional example of this adaptation. Tammanend or Tammany (loosely translated as “The Affable One”), was a Native American chief of the Lenni-Lenape tribe which resided in the Delaware Valley during the 17th century. It was Tammany who first met with William Penn in 1683 (under the branches of an enormous elm just north of present-day Philadelphia) and agreed to a peace with Pennsylvania’s original Quaker settlers that would last for over a century...

To continue reading about the forgotten tradition of St. Tammany's Day, click here to go to the latest issue of Woodville Plantation's newsletter, Window on Woodville.