Happy Spring/Easter/Passover season everyone! Thinking about holidays that are shared around the world at the same time got me wondering how the fur trade men celebrated holidays. I never really considered it before, but Christmas, Easter, Passover etc. come around whether you live in the mountains or not. Anybody have any thoughts on this?
P.S. I wonder what the mountain men dressed up as for Halloween?
"...having Providence for their founder and Nature for shepherd, gardener, and historian."
I doubt that long hunters or mountain men celebrated holidays, in general, when they were far from civilization. Most holidays of those times were Christian holidays, and with few exceptions, I doubt many of those rough, uneducated or poorly educated trappers were religious men. I also doubt that many of them carried a calender so they could keep track of the holidays. Christmas, maybe, they would celebrate when the season "felt right" to them. It would have been just another excuse to get drunk. IMO
Of course there are always exceptions. Jed Smith, being a religious man, probably did observe the holidays in some way or another.
Know what you believe in. Fight for your beliefs. Never compromise away your rights.
I seem to remember reading several different journals where the observances of Christmas and New Years were made or they were at least mentioned by the writer. Sadly I can't remember exactly where I read these. My opinion is, that while many trappers did't claim to be christians they did come from a culture that was strongly influenced with christian beliefs and traditions. Many of them probably grew up at the very least observing a few christian traditions and probably held on to some of them just for the sake of remembering their childhood.
I imagine that for some, when say Christmas or New Years was observed it was filled with thoughts of home. Like you said though Rancocas, there are always exceptions.
Of course one thing we must remember is that even how they observed holidays back then is diffenrent then now.
Osborne Russell's "Journal of a Trapper" describes two Independence Days, one miserable and the other eating fat meat by contrast. He describes in detail celebrating Christmas in, I believe, 1842. New years was celebrated with enthusiasm at fur trading posts as can be imagined and American Independence day was celebrated at Astoria by Canadian Scots. Plenty of other examples in the literature of the fur trade.
It's interesting reading (here)about the Mountain Men and religious holidays. I've done very little reading about that era, concentrating mostly on the general period 1750-1785 and the eastern migration/conflicts with French then the British with the mix of the Indian conflicts. I sure echo what IM and Scoundrel said. Seems to me that if one (whether a Mountain Man in or around the Rockys or an islolated cabin, a frontiersman or active milita member in the East if they were alone or a small group, they might well have THOUGHT about Christmas, Easter, Passover, etc but I can't see much individual celebration... think work (trap lines, skinning, curing and baling furs) or scouts,subsistance hunting or active military operations, etc would put most in the grouping of 'thinking about them, maybe . Then you have either gatherings, the 'coming in from the frontier' or a community- small or large- , etc- I'll bet if there were more than one family in an area where they could safely gather, especially if there were the odd minister/chapel, then I'll bet there were celebrations of any and all..
I sure miss ol' Fiddlesticks,I bet he coulda' contributed to this conversation....
Beer is proof that God loves us,and wants us to be happy-B. Franklin
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